A Trafik is a kind of small shop found all over Austria. As of December 31st, 2020, Vienna had around 626. The term translates closest as tobacconist and a Trafik does indeed stock a wide range of cigarettes and related goods.
- Austrian equivalent of the British newsagent
- Good for newspapers, magazines, lottery tickets, cigarettes, some stamps and some public transport tickets
- See also: Shopping in Vienna
Think of the Trafik as a cross between a newsagent and a tobacconist. Inside you usually find just a counter and a handful of display stands mostly stocking tobacco products, newspapers, magazines, and lottery tickets.
Even the non-smokers might wish to visit a Trafik during a trip, though. That’s because most of the locations (but not all) sell two key commodities for many tourists: stamps and some of the simpler tickets for public transport.
Once you’ve seen a Trafik or three, you’ll soon learn how to recognize them from a distance. But there are two big clues for those searching for their first one.
To start with, they very often have a cigarette machine outside their door and a small mobile poster display advertising the latest issue of some glossy magazine.
But the biggest giveaway is they always (I think) feature the “Austria Tabak” sign somewhere. You can see an example of this sign in the photo above. Austria Tabak is the former state tobacco manufacturer, now part of the international JTI Group.
The tobacco monopoly in Austria dates back to 1784. The Trafik was part of that monopoly, with licences to sell tobacco given to war invalids and their families. The distribution of Trafik licences continues through the Monopolverwaltung GesmbH, which is wholly owned by the state.
Current Austrian law also decrees that particular social groups should be favoured when it comes to awarding a vacant Trafik licence. These applicants still include war invalids and their kin, but also, among others, those who suffered as part of the Austrian resistance in WWII or the disabled.
The Monopolverwaltung also manages regional coverage and ensures minimal geographic competition between Trafiks. This helps secure both a better livelihood for the licence owners and access to the Trafik’s products for as wide a number of customers as possible.