Tobacco body opposes WHO move to restrict production

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 07, 2012 21:44 hrs

Upping the ante against the WHO-sponsored efforts to bring down tobacco farming in the world, International Tobacco Growers' Association (ITGA) chief executive Antonio Abrunhosa on Tuesday said such regulations would only bring hardships to farmers in the tobacco growing countries such as Brazil and India, instead of getting the desired results.

“Five of the eight biggest tobacco growing states are not a part of the treaty. Hence any dream of reducing the production of tobacco will just remain a dream. That will never ever happen,” he said referring to the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of the Parties (FCTC).

Antonio has been networking with the tobacco growers associations in Andhra Pradesh, which is one of the largest tobacco growing states in India, ahead of the FCTC conference that is scheduled to be held in Korea later this month.

The conference is proposed to ratify a set of guidelines, including the mandating of the seasons, limiting the crop area and restricting financial and technical support to tobacco farming.

According to him, over 35 million farmers and agriculture workers are involved in production worldwide producing tobacco worth over $6 billion. Acceptance of the upcoming guidelines by the treaty countries would only result in shifting the crop area to other countries that are not a party to it as the demand for tobacco remains intact as long as people use the products.

'Pharma companies funding the campaign'
He alleged the pharmaceutical companies, which produce nicotine patches for people to help quit smoking, were funding the anti-tobacco movement only to increase their sales. “These companies have not gained so far because smokers prefer only smoking,” he said.

As the companies made little progress in pushing the consumption of nicotine patches, they approached the WHO to purchase their products to distribute them for free to the smokers, he said.

Instead of stopping the production, the governments should focus on promoting the alternative uses of tobacco, he said.

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