Buying tobacco and smoking in Morocco
Our habit accompanies us wherever we go, and no matter where we are, we always want to light a cigarette and that will sooner or later mean the need to buy tobacco.
In our tours in Morocco whenever we have clients that are smokers, we usually hear the same old question:
Where can I buy tobacco in Morocco?
In most countries we know where to buy tobacco, whether it is a smoke shop in Seattle, a newsagents’ in Newham or a Tabac in Toulouse, we all know the symbols to look out for. That is no different here in Morocco. If you want to get tobacco, you have to know the sign to look out for.
And, the symbol you want to be on the lookout for is that of a picture with the drawing of three blue hoops, intertwined with each other, on a white circle on a blue background.
Once you have tracked down the tobacconists or smoke shop, you will be pleasantly surprised to see that lighting up is a fair bit cheaper here in North Africa. To give you an idea, a packet of 20 Marlboro costs about 35 dirhams, about US$ 3.50.
On the street you will find vendors offering you tobacco products, but our advice is not to buy as it is usually smuggled in from who knows where and even if it is genuine, it will still be of the very worst quality imaginable. Don’t take risks – buy it in the approved stores.
As it turns out, most places carrying the sign are often not the typical smoke shop you see back home, but general stores that sell a bit of everything, from food to SIM cards - in short, you can often find a cornucopia of goods to stock up on for any trip out of the big cities.
That said, don’t worry too much about finding tobacco if you are outside the big towns like Marrakesh or Casablanca, help is at hand! Even heading out to go on a route through Morocco in remoter parts such as the desert of Merzouga, just scour the main drag and you are likely to find the three hoops somewhere, and if all else fails, then someone will always be willing to sell you a packet or fetch one for you, to help quench your craving for smoking.
Tips for smokers in Morocco:
It is not considered polite to light your cigarette in front of a Moroccan family, above all if women are present, unless you know them well and are given permission to smoke.
But, even if given permission, do not even think about smoking in someone’s house. Look for an area where the smoke will not bother anyone – i.e. outside.
If you are with a group of men, that is different; many Muslim men smoke and tobacco does not bother them in the same way, but remember, if you are with a Moroccan family or couple, you will have to wait for the right moment – if one comes, as it is seen as a lack of respect to light up in front of a woman – unless she smokes too!