Cigarettes & Smoking in Tunisia

Page update - Mar 10, 2023

If there is one word to describe the situation with cigarettes and smoking in Tunisia, it would be "CHAOS". High tobacco taxes are coupled with the open sale of smuggled cigarettes. The anti-tobacco law is only on paper, and each hotel sets its own smoking rules. Let's try to make sense of it all.

Cigarette prices in Tunisia

Price increase in May 2022

The last tobacco products price hike took place on May 28, 2022. The taxes and minimum retail prices were increased. The prices below are given in Tunisian dinars. See the current exchange rates in our review "Tunisian dinar".

The new prices for local cigarettes: Cristal (mild) - 2.1 dinars; Mars Inter, Silver, Gold, Menthole - 4.1-4.2 dinars; Cristal Legere, Legere Eve, Legere Menthole - 3.7 dinars; Saphir - 3.9 dinars;

The new prices of imported cigarettes: Royale and Gauloise - 7.8 dinars; Dunhill, Merit, Marlboro - 9.2 dinars; Camel - 8.6; Monte Carlo - 7.

Please note! These are MINIMUM retail prices. Shops are not allowed to sell cheaper, but are allowed to sell with higher prices. And they usually sell for more, especially in tourist areas.

What kind of cigarettes Tunisians smoke

There are no exact statistics, but there are expert estimates.

About 15% of Tunisians smoke imported cigarettes.

About 60% smoke local brands Cristal and Mars.

About 25% smoke counterfeit cigarettes, which we will discuss in detail below.

There are also people who smoke local tobacco, which grows beautifully in Tunisia. You can't buy loose tobacco in the big cities, but they sell it in sacks at countryside local markets. Naturally, this consumption is not counted in the statistics. No one knows what proportion of such smokers is.

Local brands

The most famous Tunisian cigarette brands are MARS International and CRISTAL. They are cheap and of decent quality. The taste, however, may not be familiar.

If you are left without cigarettes during your holiday, we recommend buying them. An interesting thing is that it is customary to write the composition of the cigarette on the pack in Tunisia, and it looks quite funny. See our mini photo gallery below, click on the photos to enlarge.

Smuggling and counterfeit

In 2017, KPMG published a big report on the consumption of counterfeit cigarettes. Tunisia came in 2nd in the world, second only to neighboring Libya. The KPMG report found the share of counterfeit cigarettes on the Tunisian market at 25%.

Most of the contraband comes from neighboring Algeria and Libya. Such cigarettes are much cheaper. Only 1.2 dinars is the lowest price that we were once able to bargain with a local Tunisian. The regular price tag is 2-4 dinars, depending on the brand.

Among the counterfeit cigarettes there are both American and European brands. We even saw Chinese cigarettes called "Double Happiness" once. Contraband into Tunisia comes from all over the world. Of course, the cheap Marlboro or L&M have nothing in common with the originals - they are the real fakes. But Chinese cigarettes are the real deal. Their sharp taste is unmistakable.

The photo below shows a shelf of cigarettes in a shop, click on the photo to enlarge. Note the real "zoo" of local and contraband cigarettes. Even the health warning labels are in different languages.

The composition of illegal cigarettes is a mystery. No one guarantees anything to anyone in this case. Many Tunisians smoke them, and there are no outbreaks of related diseases in the country. Tunisians do not suffer from smoking-related diseases more or less often. The last fact indicates that such cigarettes are of adequate quality.

But we do NOT recommend buying them. After all, it is a lottery, and no one wants to lose their health in this lottery. Take your cigarettes with you, it's safer that way.

Import rules for tobacco products

It is allowed to bring in Tunisia:

Either 200 cigarettes (one carton), or 50 cigars, or 500 grams of loose tobacco. These figures are per adult tourist.

Tunisian customs officers are very loyal to tourists. On websites, many people write that they carry two cartons, and there were no claims.

Also Tunisian customs rules do not say anything about the age of the passenger. Purely nominally, children are also fully entitled to carry one carton of cigarettes. Read our in-depth review "What and how much you can bring into Tunisia" for details.

Of course, we make no guarantees that you won't be stopped at the border with two cartons of cigarettes. We're only quoting reviews from tourists. You do so at your own risk. If you don't have enough cigarettes, you can always buy them in Tunisia. There are no restrictions on trade there.

Rules of the trade

The feeling is that they do not exist at all. Cigarettes are sold by all shops that have at least some stand space. A shop in this case needs a license, which is issued by the local authority. The license can be obtained on the basis of only four documents (decree 95-1916 of 9 October 1995). There are no problems with it.

Illegal cigarettes are sold in shops, stalls and even by hand. Moreover, no one hides contraband tobacco under the counter. Everything is lying openly and in full view of the police. Illegal cigarettes are sold freely in resort areas.

Smoking regulations

In theory, Tunisia has Law 17 (1998) which defines the rules and restrictions on smoking. There is a fine of 25 Tunisian dinars for violating the smoking regulations in Tunisia. In practice, no one enforces this law. It seems, most Tunisians do not even know the law exists.

Tunisians smoke wherever it's not a safety hazard, which often comes as a shock to tourists. Naturally, it is strictly forbidden at petrol stations and on airport runways.

Each hotel in Tunisia sets its own smoking rules. The vast majority of Tunisian hotels allow smoking in the rooms. Many hotels allow smoking in bars and restaurants. Good hotels always have two bars - a smoking bar and a non-smoking bar. In this case, everyone is happy.

Back to the subject of tourists' reviews again. They are divided into two camps. The first one says, "I'm on holiday, I want to smoke without restrictions!" The second says: "I'm on holiday, why should I breathe tobacco smoke!" And both groups are right in their own way. But both groups are extremely unhappy with each other. Tunisia is a "Mecca" for Europeans who smoke and drink. Those who are not so interested in bad habits prefer Spain.

Facts and figures

Smoking is a male activity in Tunisians mentality. According to official statistics, 45.1% of men and only 4.4% of women smoke in Tunisia. If a woman smokes, Tunisians look at this contemptuously. Get used to it, that's the mentality of these people.

However, this does not apply to hotels in Tunisian resorts where the staff are used to everything. Many Europeans smoke a lot. Both men and women do it, and even those who do not smoke at all in their homeland. Tunisia is a relaxed place for them, where there are no strict rules and boundaries like in their homeland. The second means of "pulling back" for the Europeans is Tunisian alcohol, as it is cheap and of good quality. Read our detailed review "Alcohol in Tunisia".

However, Tunisia grows almost no tobacco. Only about 1,200 hectares of land are cultivated there. To compare, 1,500,000 hectares in China and 495,000 hectares in India are used to grow tobacco. Most of the tobacco in Tunisia is imported.

Good to know

- During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast - they do not eat, drink, smoke during the day. Tunisia is a secular country and the law does not oblige anyone to fast. However, we recommend you not to make Tunisians nervous and smoke away so that as few people as possible can see it. Read more in our review "Ramadan in Tunisia";

- Don't smoke near mosques, schools, or hospitals. Even Tunisians consider it uncultured. Read our detailed review "What you can't do in Tunisia";

- If you decide to bring Tunisian cigarettes, be aware of the restrictions at the border. See our review "What you can and can't take out of Tunisia" for details.

That's all we wanted to tell you about cigarettes and smoking in Tunisia. Read our other interesting pages about this country (see the list of the pages below). © 2020-2024