Burundi- Country Profile

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Burundi is an East African country with a population over eleven million 1 It is one of the poorest countries in the world. 2

Smoking in Burundi

Data reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), as part of the reporting on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) suggests that current smoking prevalence in Burundi amongst men is 11% and women is 6%. 3. The Tobacco Atlas estimates that more than 3000 children (under 15 years) use tobacco each day in Burundi.4 In 2020,  approximately 2700 people died from tobacco-related causes.4

Tobacco in Burundi

Although there are multiple tobacco companies operating in Burundi, British American Tobacco (BAT) maintains a strong presence within the country.5

Roadmap to Tobacco Control

In an effort to curb the escalating tobacco epidemic in the country, the government of Burundi ratified the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on the 22nd November 2005.6 On the 20th February 2006 Burundi became a party to the convention6 and in so doing acknowledged the importance of tobacco control to safeguarding public health.7

Despite having ratified the FCTC in 2005, it took six years for the first tobacco control law to be passed in parliament. On 10 October 2011, a new public health law, the “Decree No. 630/3007/CAB/2011 on Health Warnings and Prohibiting the Sale of Cigarettes to Minors and in Certain Public Places” was enforced.8 The law, the first of its kind to legislate tobacco control measures in Burundi, was the primary tobacco control legislation in the country until 2018. Provisions within the law covered the following but fell short of the FCTC requirements:

  • Health warnings on tobacco packaging;
  • Limiting the sale of cigarettes to minors;
  • Limiting the sale of cigarettes in certain public places (schools, hospitals, and stadiums);
  • imposing high tax rates on tobacco products.89

Law on the Code of the Supply of Health Care and Services (May 2018)

Law No. 1/012 of 2018 on the Code of the Supply of Health Care and Services introduced new tobacco control regulations in 2018, as a step forward into further implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The following regulations were adopted in this new comprehensive legislation:

  • Smoke free environments: Smoking is banned in all indoor public places, all indoor workplaces, and on public transport. In addition, the law prohibits smoking in outdoor places where others are exposed to tobacco smoke. 10
  • Tobacco advertising and promotion has been banned across the country 10
  • Tobacco industry sponsorship has been partially banned, given that article 118 of the No. 1/012 Law banned sponsorship if it has the purpose or effect of promotion directly or indirectly tobacco products. Hence, it leaves a grey area around sponsorship where the tobacco industry may act. 10
  • Tobacco Packaging and Labelling: health warnings are mandatory for at least 50% of the front and back of the packs. 10

The No. 1/012 Law of 2018 has represented an enormous step forward for Burundi in the road to tobacco control. However, it is worth noting that is a common tactic of the tobacco industry to use its influence and leverage its political relationships to support the passage of weak tobacco control legislation. It often is because once some form of legislation is enacted, there is often less political will to develop further, stronger tobacco control legislation.11

Extensive research published in 2021 by the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, a partner in STOP, and in conjunction with BBC’s Panorama, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project uncovered multiple instances of British American Tobacco seeking to frustrate tobacco control measures in Africa.

Tobacco Tactics Resources

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  1. World Bank, Burundi data, 2019, accessed December 2020
  2. Euromonitor, Burundi country profile, 2020, accessed December 2020
  3. WHO, Reporting Instrument of WHO FCTC, reporting country: Burundi, 2020, accessed February 2021
  4. abTobacco Atlas, Burundi, 2020, accesses February 2021
  5. British American Tobacco, Public Private Dialogue on Harmonisation of Domestic Taxes in EAC, 9 February 2012, accessed November 2015
  6. abWHO FCTC Implementation Database Burundi,accessed October 2015
  7. Framework Convention Alliance, What is it Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, accessed September 2015
  8. abCTFK, Tobacco Contol Laws, Country Details for Burundi,accessed October 2015
  9. The Human Rights and Tobacco Control Network, Tobacco Control and the Right to Health – Burundi, September 2015, accessed October 2015
  10. abcdTobacco Control Laws, Burundi, 2020, accessed February 2021
  11. A.B. Gilmore, G. Fooks, J. Drope, S.A. Bialous, R.R. Jackson Exposing and addressing tobacco industry conduct in low-income and middle-income countries, The Lancet, 14 March 2015, accessed July 2015