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Inside the West Bank's homemade cigarette industry

Palestinians increasingly smoke locally produced tobacco at cheap rates, causing a challenging situation for cigarette companies, tobacco growers and the Palestinian government.
A Palestinian worker fills up empty cigarettes manually with locally grown tobacco in a small factory in the town of Ya'bad near the West Bank city of Jenin October 8, 2012. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini (WEST BANK - Tags: SOCIETY HEALTH) - RTR38XLE
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JENIN, West Bank — Along with his family, Abu Ahmed, who hails from Jenin governorate in the northern West Bank, has been stuffing cigarettes for three years. He fills on average 3,200 cigarette tubes — locally known as “al-Arabi" — with 4 kilograms (roughly 9 pounds) of tobacco for $20 per day. Abu Ahmed, who runs an olive grove at his farm, relies on this job to provide for his family.

While using a tube-filling machine, Abu Ahmed told Al-Monitor that he gets chopped up tobacco and empty filters from a dealer who sells them for $5 per kilogram (2.2 pounds). He said the lack of job opportunities and the high cost of living have prompted him to do this work to provide for his family’s daily needs.

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