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History of the Tobacco in Tunisia
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Tobacco in the World

According to several historical sources : (, tobacco was probably used for the first time by the Mayas, These latter transmitted it to Indians of North America, who believed Tobacco had medicinal properties and would use it during ceremonies.

The Arawaks, caribbean original people, used to smoke tobacco in a long pipe called Tobago, which gave the name tobacco. Brought from Saint Dominguez to Spain in 1556, tobacco was introduced in France the same year by the French diplomat Jean Nicot, who gave the plant its generic name.

In 1585, the English navigator Francis Drake brought back some in England, and the habit of smoking the pipe spread among courtesans of the Queen Elizabeth thanks to the English explorer Walter Raleigh. The use of tobacco rapidly spread throughout Europe and in the 17th Century, it had reached China, Japan and the western coast of Africa.

Tobacco in Tunisia

1830 the plant arrived from Europe to the northern parts of Tunisia where it was cultivated .
Between 1870 and 1876 : the State was in charge for the direct exploitation of tobacco monopoly by the creation of the first service of tobacco monopoles.
Between 1877 and 1890 : The exploitation of tobacco cultures was ceased to a farmer.
In 1890 : The colonial authority decided to fight fraud, one of the main reasons preventing direct control through the creation of a structure that would be able to cover the whole country. It was obvious that the direct management by the State would constitute the sole efficient means to bring this phenomenon to an end.
In 1891 : Creation of the 1st Tobacco Department under the direct authority of the State, with the full monopole on tobacco, salt, and fire powder.
1898 : Appearance of the 1st law organizing the tobacco sector in Tunisia. Matches and playing cards have been added to products managed by the monopole.
During the 1914/1918 war, the Tobacco department assured very important supplying operations to provide the field with sugar, tea, rice and candles. Throughout time, other productions were added: Caps Tanning (Chechias), color additives for wool, color dozes for agricultural fuels.
In 1923 : Services reporting to warehouses, retailers and fraud repression (only in terms of culture and sale inspection), were withdrawn from the former Monopole Department, to constitute a new structure called: Indirect Contributions Department.
Since 1964 : the Monopole is administered by a public institution, having the industrial and commercial character, morally and financially autonomous, called the National Manufacture for Tobacco and Matches (RNTA).
1972 : Integration of RNTA’s staff in the public service.
In 1981 : Creation of the Kairouan Tobacco Manufacture (MTK), with the same vocation and system as the RNTA to respond to the local market’s needs for cigarettes, 97% of which are Tunisian labels.
1984 : Sub-contracting the 20 Mars Inter at Rinzos &Ormond in Switzerland.
1994 : Signing of a multi-year commercial contract between FJ Berrus (BAT) and RNTA for the supply of the local market with the cigarettes 20 Mars International.
1995 : Partial recovery of the production of the 20 Mars Inter and Light and launching of the pilot workshop at the RNTA.
1996 : Launching of the filtered Boussetta and the Mentholated 20 Mars.
In March 1997 : MTK signed a partnership contract with the company JTI (then called RJR).
1998 :
- Promulgation of Law N°98-17 dated February 23, 1998 related to preventing the drawbacks of smoking.
- Introduction of light tobacco in north-western cultures.
In 1999 and in 2003 :
Renewal of partnership contracts between RNTA and MTK on the one hand and JTI and Inter-Tab Tunisia (subsidiary of BAT) on the other.
2003 :
- Beginning of the first modernizing phase of the General Preparations Workshop.
- RNTA’s pilot workshop is equipped with modern equipments (two GD X2 and X3 and two Protos 70 and 80) producing 120 million packets of 20 Mars International a year.
2005 :
- Acquisition of new equipment to the General Preparations Workshop in the framework of resuming the production of scaferlati used for the 20 Mars Inter.
- MTK has achieved since October 2005 the long expected objective to fully bring back the production of "Light Cristal " with an investment of six million dinars.
2006 :
- Starting of the manufacture of the scaferlati for VMI
- Installation of management software business in the distribution centers
- Sub-contracting the Mars Inter at TTI (Tunisian Tobacco Investment).
2007 :
- Launching of the consultation for sub-contracting of the VMI/VML/VMM
- Starting of the manufacture of the scaferlati for VML.
- Installation of new equipements.
2008 :
- Manufacturing the total needs of RNTA for the scaferlati (VMI/VML)
2009 :
- Opening distribution Center of Sejoumi
- Installation of the new equipments thereby increasing the production of the VML to 285 million boxes per year.

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