Tobacco company Philip Morris Maroc says its cigarettes sold in Morocco "perfectly meet the relevant regulation in Morocco,” a law that never took effect.
Rabat – Following the recent investigation revealing that Swiss cigarettes sold in Morocco have more nicotine than those sold in Europe, Philip Morris’s affiliate in Morocco has reacted to the findings.
The investigation’s results, recently published by the organization Public Eye, found that “in 2017, 2,900 tonnes of Swiss cigarettes were exported to Morocco, the equivalent of some 3.625 billion ‘ciggies.’”
Arousing controversy among Moroccans, the investigation targeted several tobacco brands, including the giant Marlboro, one of the brands produced by Swiss-based tobacco manufacturing company Philip Morris International.
Officials at Philip Morris Maroc, an affiliate of Philip Morris International, reacted to the inquiry, saying there is no “less or more harmful cigarette than another and the best choice for smokers is simply to quit smoking,” daily newspaper Aujourd’hui Le Maroc reported.
The tobacco company emphasized that its products sold in Morocco “perfectly meet the relevant regulation in Morocco,” the Moroccan newspaper added.
The Swiss journalists who led the investigation, Marie Maurisse and Gie Goris, said they analyzed samples of Swiss cigarettes in Morocco and in Europe at the Lausanne Health Institute, a laboratory affiliated with the World Health Organization.
“For each substance tested, nearly all cigarettes produced in Switzerland and consumed in Morocco contained levels higher than that found in Swiss and French cigarettes,” their analysis reads.
Aujourd’hui Le Maroc affirmed that Philip Morris Maroc was telling the truth because Morocco does not have any regulations defining the maximum levels of substances in tobacco products. “Unlike, for example, Europe where these levels are regulated by Standard 10-1-10.”
The newspaper mentioned a draft bill on tobacco products introduced in 2012 but never examined or voted on.
The Swiss investigation also confirmed that there is no regulation of cigarette components in Morocco.
“In 2012, Morocco passed a law akin to European legislation, limiting the permissible levels of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide. However, the decree implementing it was never promulgated and there is no laboratory to check the levels of these substances.”
Sources at Philip Morris Maroc, nevertheless, told the newspaper that the quality of their Swiss cigarettes cannot be manipulated since tobacco plants around the world respect the same quality and production standards.
Since Morocco does not have a law on these standards, “it is up to the Moroccan legislator to quickly fix its own standards instead of letting doubt float with the current legal vacuum,” the sources stressed.