Burundi- Country Profile

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Burundi is a small East African country with a population of approximately ten million.1

Smoking in Burundi

Few data are available on smoking in Burundi. Data reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), as part of the Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, suggests that current smoking prevalence amongst young people (13-15 years) is 19.3%,2 while the Tobacco Atlas estimates that more than 26,000 children (under 15 years) and 960,000 adults (ages 15-59 for men and 15-49 for women) use tobacco each day in Burundi.3 Every week, approximately 33 men and 19 women die from tobacco-related causes.3

Tobacco in Burundi

According to estimates of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN, tobacco leaf production in Burundi has remained relatively stable over recent years; in 2011, 2012 and 2013, 1,350 tonnes, 1,400 tonnes and 1,380 tonnes of leaf were produced respectively.4 Comparatively, in 2012, 2,235,697 tonnes of bananas, 2,233,790 tonnes of cassava, 839,715 tonnes of sweet potatoes, and 225,003 tonnes of dry beans were produced in Burundi.
Although there are multiple tobacco companies operating in Burundi, British American Tobacco (BAT) also 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, remains the primary tobacco control legislation in the country. Provisions within the law cover the following but fall 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

Obstacles to Implementation

The 2011 Decree fails to meet FCTC requirements on smoke free environments as well as anti-smoking campaigns, and it also has weak regulation on advertising of tobacco products.3 Furthermore the FCTC calls for ratifying countries to adopt and implement graphic health warnings within three years of joining the Convention,10 but as the current legislation in Burundi requires text warnings only, Burundi is already six years past the three year benchmark for graphic health warnings.
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, often because once some form of legislation is enacted, there is often less political will to develop further, stronger tobacco control legislation.11

TobaccoTactics Resources


  1. WHO, Global Health Observatory, Burundi, 2013, accessed October 2015
  2. World Health Organisation,WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic – Burundi,2015, accessed October 2015
  3. abcAmerican Cancer Society, The World Lung Foundation, Burundi, The Tobacco Atlas, 2015 accessed September 2015
  4. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, FAOSTAT Crop production in Burundi 2015, accessed November 2015
  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. World Health Organisation, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, 2003, accessed October 2015
  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