Reintroduction of Zim Dollar Dampens Cigarette Sales

Zimbabwe's previous currency was rendered worthless by hyperinflation.
Photo: Taco Tuinstra

The reintroduction of the Zimbabwean dollar late last year has taken a toll on legal cigarette sales, reports New Zimbabwe.

Market leader British American Tobacco experienced a 17 percent drop in sales for the fiscal year that ended Dec. 31, 2019. The company attributed the decline to the weakening of the Zimbabwe dollar, which has eroded disposable incomes and forced people to cut down on smoking.

“It was a challenging year for the business mainly driven by significant changes to the macroeconomic policies and in particular, the introduction of the Zimbabwe dollar that was floated against the U.S. dollar,” said company Chair Lovemore Manatsa.

Manatsa said the local currency devalued against major trading currencies further impacting consumer disposable incomes, which saw inflation increasing to 521 percent by the end of December 2019.

Zimbabwe replaced its currency in 2009 with the U.S. dollar to stop hyperinflation. In November 2019, Zimbabwe’s central bank reintroduced the currency to ease a severe cash shortage, but the new Zimbabwe dollar too is quickly losing value.