While many Western-based tobacco companies face an increasingly hostile regulatory environment in their home markets, their business is booming in eastern Europe.
U.S. and European firms now own all the cigarette factories in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, the Baltic states, and Kazakhstan. They also have a strong manufacturing presence in Poland, Ukraine, and Russia. Excluding wide-spread smuggling, sales in the former communist nations are estimated at 600 billion cigarettes a year by Merrill Lynch tobacco analyst Jonathan Fell.
And according to Moscow-based Video International Advertisement Group, the "big four" tobacco firms, Philip Morris Cos. Inc., RJR Nabisco Holdings Group, B.A.T. Industries PLC, and Rothmans account for almost one-third of all advertising in the former Soviet republics.