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World Tobacco Growers’ day celebrates tobacco’s benefits, warns of threats

| October 30, 2012

To mark the first-ever World Tobacco Growers’ Day, farmers across the world yesterday took part in events to highlight the disastrous impact World Health Organization proposals would have on their livelihoods if passed by parties to the
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in two weeks’ time.

“We’re celebrating the benefits our farms bring to our communities and asking our leaders to stand with us, to hear our voices, and to give us the opportunity to work together to protect our way of life,” said Antonio Abrunhosa, CEO of the International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA).

According to an ITGA press release issued through PRNewswire, Abrunhosa is leading the events worldwide and plans to carry the growers’ message to the FCTC’s Fifth Conference of the Parties (CoP5) in Seoul, Korea, next month.

Events in dozens of countries across four continents yesterday sought to demonstrate the social and economic contribution farmers make to their communities, to remember the heritage of the sector and to educate the public about the issues impacting farmers’ livelihoods.

The events focus on the threat currently facing the world’s tobacco farmers from the FCTC, which, at CoP5, will vote on recommendations to:
*Artificially limit or reduce the land to cultivate tobacco, and deny farmers the
right to grow tobacco;
* Regulate the seasons of the year in which tobacco farming is allowed;
* Ban tobacco famers from working with their clients to improve crop yields,
health and safety conditions and the crop’s environmental impacts;

* Dismantle the bodies relating tobacco farmers with their governments; and
* Introduce mandatory ‘rehabilitation programs’ that would force growers into
other crops, regardless of the economic viability of those crops.

“We are also asking governments to join us today and step back from the WHO abyss and protect, not penalise, poor tobacco farmers,” Abrunhosa said.

He pointed out that the CoP5 recommendations ran contrary to the original intent of the FCTC’s treaty, which was to provide ‘technical and financial assistance to aid the economic transition of tobacco growers and workers’ if and when a decline in tobacco consumption results in lower demand for the crop.

“These draconian proposals are putting tobacco farmers under unprecedented attack from bureaucrats who are looking to artificially reduce the supply of tobacco without providing growers any viable alternatives to support their families,” said Abrunhosa.

“Contrary to FCTC’s claims, not a single smoker will stop smoking because of these proposals. All they will do is spread misery among farmers and their families in some of the least developed countries in the world. We are asking the FCTC to respect its own principles and accept growers’ knowledge and opinion on issues that impact their livelihoods.”

Category: Breaking News

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