Malawi is not a signatory to the FCTC, so there is little regulation of tobacco products. Malawi’s Tobacco Act regulates tobacco growing and exportation, but does not contain any restrictions on advertising, smoking in public places, or health warning label requirements. Smoking is allowed in public places, and tobacco advertising, including tobacco sponsorship of sports teams, is allowed. Since many smokers grow and then roll their own tobacco into cigarettes, a tobacco tax has not been an effective way to deter smoking.
Tobacco farming accounts for 81 percent of Malawi’s foreign exchange earnings. So, efforts to end smoking are treated with caution and often tinged with concern about negative economic consequences for the country. Furthermore, there is a lack of public education about smoking and many smokers, especially in rural areas, don’t fully understand smoking’s potential to cause negative health effects.
Malawians have little exposure to or knowledge of alternatives to combustible cigarettes.