Lebanon’s tobacco industry booming

| August 19, 2016

Syria’s conflict has caused huge numbers of refugees to flee to Lebanon, putting a severe strain on them and on the Lebanese economy, but the Syrian conflict has been a boon for at least one economic sector: the tobacco industry, according to an Associated Press story.

Although at Lebanon’s main tobacco factory, located southeast of the capital, Beirut, employees work round-the-clock, they can barely satisfy the demand for locally-made cigarettes.

“We are lucky that there are Syrians in Lebanon,” said George Hobeika, a senior official with the state-owned factory, who added that the consumption of some local brands in Lebanon had more than tripled in five years.

Lebanon is hosting more than a million registered Syrian refugees. Unofficially, the number of Syrians who have fled to Lebanon is estimated to be closer to two million, and many of them are unable to find work.

Lebanon’s government-owned Regie Libanaise des Tabacs et Tombac is the only company authorized to produce and import cigarettes and tobacco and it is said to be a rare success story among the country’s often dysfunctional state companies. It is one of the few institutions to bring money into the state’s coffers.

At the Regie factory in Beirut’s Hadath district, all the machines are functioning at nearly maximum capacity and Italian engineers are installing a new machine that is expected to boost production by 12,000 cigarettes a minute within weeks.

Category: Breaking News

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