From Farms to Consumers
The production of any tobacco product begins on the farm, where tobacco leaves are grown, harvested and naturally cured according to the plant variety.
FIGURES: Tobacco production in the EU amounts to over 200,000 tons from approximatively 55,000 farms in 12 EU Member States. Tobacco growing employs around 390,000 people in the EU (including seasonal workers).
FACT: Since the last revision of the EU Common Agricultural Policy, tobacco growers can no longer benefit from EU subsidies (linked to production).
Once cured, the leaves are graded by hand according to length, thickness, imperfection and colour. Processors also separate the lamina from the stems and often hand-blend the leaves.
FIGURES: There are around 35 industrial processing plants in the EU, and many more small processing facilities, often tied to farms. These plants provide approximatively 8,000 people with a job.
FACT: The main ingredient used in processing the leaves is water.
Tobacco is blended, steamed and conditioned to ensure an appropriate level of moisture. Depending on the blend and type of end product, leaves are then stretched, pressed together, eventually fermented, or flavored and cut.
FIGURES: In the EU, tobacco products of all kinds are produced in approximatively 300 factories of over 250 companies, many of them being family-owned or mid-sized firms. The tobacco manufacturing sector provides for around 53,000 jobs in the EU.
FACT: Tobacco manufacturing involves numerous suppliers such as the packaging and printing companies as well as additive and flavouring companies.
WHOLESALERS & DISTRIBUTORS
Wholesalers and distributors organise and handle the movement of tobacco goods from manufacturers to retailers.
FIGURES: In the EU, approximately 3,000 companies of all sizes employ over 47,000 people, ensuring distribution of tobacco products.
FACT: Many small and mid-sized tobacco manufacturers may skip this step by putting their products directly on certain markets, or operate these movements themselves, especially when they sell traditional and specialised tobacco products.
Retailers (or tobacconists) sell tobacco products, in general in very small quantities (i.e. individual packs) to consumers. Retail tobacco covers a large variety of points of sales, such as supermarkets, convenience stores, specialized tobacconists, kiosk, gas station or vending machines.
FIGURES: In the EU, approximately 950,000 retail outlets offer tobacco, in addition to 650,000 vending machines present in 10 Member States. Tobacco retail employs over 1 million people in the EU.
FACT: In some countries such as France, tobacconists also play a cultural and societal role, especially in rural areas, where they are a place to socialise and provide other convenience goods as well.
Although most smokers prefer boxed cigarettes, 29% of smokers regularly consume fine-cut-tobacco and 1% of smokers smoke cigarillos, cigars or pipes on a daily basis.
FIGURES: The EU tobacco sector provides over 1.5 million people with a job, servicing 150 million smokers with a tobacco product of their choice.
FACT: As such, “tobacco” produces more than €100 billion in government revenues every year.