Smoking is one of the unhealthiest behaviours a person can impose to the human body. The damage is significant and can be associated with diseases such as the many varieties of cancer, infertility and heart diseases.
A single factory-made cigarette is most likely to contain more than 600 additives used to increase its effect, durability, flashing speed and addiction potential.
Tobacco companies around the world make billions with their products. It is a dirty but highly profitable business which costs more than six million smokers their lives each year, as a study published by the American Cancer Society in 2009 could find out.
In Samoa, just last week, the news about a newly built cigarette factory owned by Chinese company Coin Save was spread. The cigarettes which will be produced at the place may not differ from the usual ones in terms of their additives.
But a man who has lived in Samoa for more than 40 years just came up with an alternative solution for the high number of smokers in the country. Joseph Baukes, originally from Germany, as a convinced non-smoker, says: “Samoa can produce its own tobacco.
We do not need a company from China, people can grow it themselves and produce their own cigarettes all organic without any kinds of additives in it.” One might ask why the man from Ulololoa is so sure about this. The answer is: Mr Baukes has already proven it.
“We already have another cigarette factory here in Samoa, which is owned by British American Tobacco. But all these years, I was wondering where all the money goes with that business, since they are importing all their tobacco [from different countries] to Samoa.”
The question that got stuck along with this consideration in Joseph Bauke’s mind was: “Why can’t we grow our own tobacco?”.
But there was a problem concerning at least the industrial process of manufacturing tobacco in Samoa. “The government established a new law, saying that they want to outlaw any manufacturing of […] cigarettes in Samoa”.
Nonetheless, this law did not say anything about home-grown Tobacco in the country. Baukes, whose family has a long tradition in manufacturing cigarettes in Europe, did resort to that knowledge, recorded by his deceased ancestors. He found success.
“My family was originally based in Rhode Island in the United States. They moved to the Netherlands, where they were able to launch tobacco products for the first time. What I did here, was to plant and dry tobacco.
I know that some Samoans have their own tobacco, which is […] really hard and black, but they do not know how to treat the plant in the right way. So during the last ten years, I have tried out a lot to perfect the process of growing, drying and cutting of different kinds of tobacco here, like Cuban tobacco."
The process of growing the plant and preparing it was not the point where Joseph Baukes stopped his research.
“To manufacture the cigarettes in an easy and affordable way, people in the villages of Samoa could use stamping machines and easily produce up to 5000 cigarettes a day and then sell them in the local shops."
The machines which he speaks of contain a simple mechanism which allows it to fill up empty shells of many cigarettes with the right amount of tobacco without a break. According to the man from Germany, consumers where highly satisfied with the cigarettes made of Samoan tobacco when they gave them a try.
“They keep asking me if I want to sell them, but that is not what I am doing. They can have them for free, because I do not want to interfere with the law, but also, Samoa does not need to rely on foreign products when it comes to smoking.”
The advantage of a local production is obvious to Mr. Baukes. “People would have an occupation. I’ve been to Cuba and many places in the world, where even cigars are produced in that way, rolled by village people from hand and sold. We could have ‘Samoas’ instead of ‘Cubanas’ here”, he states.
For Baukes, the introduction of such a business branch in the villages of the country would not be related with the possible high profit for him. “I would teach people how to plant the tobacco for free, because I want to support the country.
I know that tobacco is an unhealthy product, but there will always be people who smoke it, just like it is with marijuana. At least they would not have to consume all the additives of cigarettes produced in factories.