Representatives of oriental tobacco growers have expressed concern about a report by a working group of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
The report on the FCTC’s articles 17 (provision of support for economically viable alternative activities) and 18 (protection of the environment and the health of persons) is due to be discussed at the FCTC’s Conference of the Parties meeting, COP6, in Moscow on October 13-18.
The grower representatives, from Bulgaria, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Oman, Serbia and Turkey, met in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, on Thursday for an Oriental Tobacco Forum organized by the International Tobacco Growers’ Association. It was the third such forum to have been organized by the association.
The forum noted that the report agreed with the ITGA that:
* ‘Growers must be consulted on changes that will affect them: The draft proposals acknowledge and insist that the involvement of tobacco growers in policy development, decision-making and implementation ‘should be guaranteed’.
* ‘Comprehensive and long term research must be undertaken in order to identify viable alternatives to tobacco before it can be recommended to farmers to move out of tobacco, should the market for tobacco decline due to lower demand.’
However, the forum said it noted with concern that:
* ‘The proposals urge signatories to the FCTC to ensure that subsidies for tobacco growing are ‘discontinued’ and reallocated to alternative livelihood activities. This recommendation will have a detrimental impact on tobacco growers across Europe and beyond, many of whom already face significant economic challenges.
* ‘Recommendations for land reform to speed up the search for alternatives by the growers, which fail to take into account that land reform is the prerogative of sovereign states and not nongovernmental agencies.’
The forum called on the signatories to the FTFC to:
• ‘Immediately set up formal consultation processes with the ITGA and its members, as representatives of tobacco growers.
• ‘Ensure that the views of growers are conveyed to the WHO during the COP6 discussions and all future COP meetings.’
The ITGA reiterated that it and its member organizations were available to share with the WHO the vast experience of and data gathered by ITGA’s members.