Objective This study aims to measure the extent of illicit cigarette consumption from single stick sales, to determine the nature and types of illicit cigarettes present in Ghana, and to identify the factors associated with illicit cigarette consumption in Ghana. Design A cross-sectional study using empty cigarette packs generated by 1 day's single stick cigarette sales collected from cigarette vendors. Setting Five large cities (Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Tamale and Bolgatanga) and three border towns (Aflao, Paga/Hamele and Elubo) in the northern, middle and coastal belt of Ghana. Procedure and participants Ten areas were randomly selected in each city/town, and all shops selling cigarettes within 1 km of the central point were surveyed. Outcome measures (1) Estimates of the share of illicit cigarette packs in the total cigarette sales from vendors selling single stick cigarettes in Ghana; (2) nature and types of illicit cigarette packs; (3) factors associated with illicit cigarette sales in Ghana. Results Of a total of 4461 packs, about 20% (95% CI 18.3 to 20.7) were found to be illicit. Aflao (Ghana-Togo border) and Tamale (Ghana-Burkina Faso border) had the highest percentage of illicit cigarette sales at 99% and 46%, respectively (p<0.001). Over half of the illicit packs originated from Togo (51%), followed by Nigeria (15%) and then Cote d'Ivoire (10%). Adjusted and unadjusted logistic regression models indicated that convenience stores, border towns, pack price and the northern zone had higher odds of illicit cigarette sales. Conclusion To effectively tackle illicit cigarettes, market surveillance and strengthening supply chain control are required, particularly at the border towns and the northern region of the country.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere062476
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Early online date22 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Medical Research Council [grant number MR/P027946/2] with funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund and with additional funding from the University of Edinburgh’s Scottish Funding Council Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) allocation.

Data availability statement
Data are available upon reasonable request. The data are owned and shared by the Tobacco Control Capacity Program (TCCP) and the School of Public Health, KNUST, Ghana. Requests for data sharing can be made to artisingh_uk@yahoo.com/arti.singh@tuni.fi.


  • Epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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