Several multinational cigarette makers including Philip Morris International (PMI), Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and British American Tobacco (BAT) have suspended their cigarette manufacturing operations in Russia pending clarification about coronavirus policies.
The Russian government has listed tobacco products as “non-food” commodities and therefore prohibited them from operating during this stage of the pandemic.
JTI, which announced a “Putin break” from March 30 to April 3, stated, “This decision was due to the ambiguity of how various regulatory measures taken in the past week, and the definition of continuous production and nonbusiness days, relate to each other, and also the fact that tobacco products were excluded from the list of non-food commodities.”
The spokesperson noted that JTI has taken measures to ensure an uninterrupted supply of its products to consumers. BAT has closed its St. Petersburg production facility until April 5 for similar reasons. PMI has closed its St. Petersburg production facility until April 3.
These production slowdowns could lead to a cigarette shortage unless the government clarifies its intent.