‘Non-tobacco producing countries should not produce it’

Greater Noida, Nov 12 (IANS) As part of the global efforts to find alternative sources of livelihood for tobacco farmers, WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on Saturday adopted a resolution to ensure that non-tobacco producing countries do not produce tobacco.

Over 180 nations — which participated in the seventh edition of the World Health Organisation’s FCTC — decided to hold meetings with commerce, environment, agriculture and health departments of their countries along with members of the tobacco industry to find other alternatives for tobacco growers.

“We want to help the tobacco growers. The point is that tobacco industries are using farmers at the forefront for their own benefits. The supply chain of tobacco has to be broken,” said Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, head of the convention secretariat of WHO FCTC.

She made the remarks while addressing the media at the concluding ceremony of the six-day COP 7 WHO FCTC.

“The tobacco industry is misled and generates a perception that the convention is against the farmers but it is not like that. We want to help them by reaching out to them,” da Costa e Silva told IANS.

Additional Health Secretary Arun Panda, who was also present at the event, told IANS: “We have decided to convene a meeting of various departments such as health, agriculture and others to decide alternative sources of livelihood for the tobacco growers.”

India and Bangladesh have proposed to find alternative crops and livelihood for tobacco farmers in Southeast Asia. The proposal was supported by several other countries.

The proposal was in accordance with Article 17 and 18 of the WHO FCTC convention which talk about provisions of support for economically viable alternative activities and protection of the environment and the health of persons respectively.

According to International Tobacco Growers Association, the alternative crop farming for the tobacco growers will affect at least 30 million farmers across the world.