Who’s the biggest killer ?
Beedi can be identified as the cheapest smoking tobacco products in Sri Lanka average price is Rs. 2/- (Min2-Max3.5). The cheapest cigarettes type is Rs. 10/- (Min10-Max34). Although beedi is the cheapest form of tobacco smoking 97% of the total tobacco smokers are smoking cigarettes in Sri Lanka. In the world context, 96% of the tobacco smokers are cigarette smokers.
Majority of the beedi consumers are consuming cigarettes but most cigarettes users are not consuming beedi.
Beedi manufacturing and sales can be seen as a small scale mainly home-based business with no promotion or advertising cost at all. In Sri Lanka, cigarettes production and sale is a monopoly of Ceylon Tobacco Company which is owned by British American Tobacco-BAT. BAT owns more than 92% of the shares of CTC. Tobacco Company is engaged in subtle promotions due to complete ban in direct and indirect promotions, sponsorships and advertising as per the NATA (National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol) Act 27 of 2006.
Beedi consumption is visible among low-income groups in the country and mostly they are elders above 40 years (74%). Most beedi consumers are having minimal educational background or no education at all. They are mainly engaged in daily wage labor jobs. Cigarettes smokers are spread across different age groups (15-24 youth- 27.4%, 25-39 middle age- 34.2% and above 40 43.3%), economic and education conditions.
Beedi smokers are declining and the producers and sellers claim that the production and sales decreasing. Most common reasons for beedi usage were “support for late night jobs”, “to get rid of the tiredness”, “to pass time”, etc which were linked to their occupations. This implies that the beedi users are trapped in the common myths attached to tobacco smoking. However majority of the cigarette smokers claim that they smoke without any obvious reason.
Graph 1: Tobacco production in world