Malawi’s Agricultural Parliamentary Committee is investigating complaints by tobacco farmers who are unhappy with an Integrated Production System (IPS) that they say the government has imposed on them, according to a story by the Nyasa Times.
And farmers aren’t the only ones who have reservations about the system. A paper on Tobacco Production and Market Review Policies by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, presented at the 2014 Tobacco Industry Annual Seminar, confirmed that the IPS had a number of problems.
The paper reportedly pointed out that the system lacked ‘transparency in loan portfolios’. For example, the tobacco buying companies were said to be free to charge farmers any level of interest on the value of farm inputs.
A farmer in Dowa was said to have told the Times that farmers were charged K30,000 for each bag of fertilizer that cost K16,000 on the open market.
One MP who is serving on the committee looking into the complaints, Nkhosa Kamwendo, said the system was just there “to steal from the farmers…”
Kamwendo said his job as an MP was to protect the people in his constituency who made their living from farming; so if those people were being ripped off he was failing in his duty.
Bloomberg Philanthropies (BPh) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) said on Wednesday they were creating a $4 million fund to help governments defend their tobacco control policies.
A Reuters report, relayed by the TMA, said the fund would be administered by the US-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
BPh and BMGF said countries with limited resources should not be bullied into making bad health policy choices.
In a briefing, Michael Bloomberg said the new fund would “help countries who are sued by the tobacco industry fight back in court and win”.
He said that while he supported capitalism and trade, the industry’s use of international trade agreements to prevent countries from passing tobacco control laws was unacceptable.
The issue, he added, was “about sovereignty and whether a country has the right to set its own public health policies”.
The initial investment is expected to grow as more donors join.
I-Mei Food, one of Taiwan’s biggest food companies, said on Wednesday that it would stop selling tobacco products in its stores from next month, according to a story in the Taipei Times.
The company cited the nation’s poor air quality, parents’ reaction to smoking, and actor-turned-activist Sun Yue’s anti-smoking efforts as reasons behind its decision.
Meanwhile, there has been a mixed reaction from the nation’s four major convenience store operators to I-Mei Food’s decision.
President Chain Store Corp’s 7-Eleven, the nation’s biggest convenience store chain, said it was still trying to understand the issue.
Family Mart said it had not discussed the issue, while Hi-Life and OK Mart said they had no plans to stop selling cigarettes.
OK Mart said its stores had a policy of selling but not promoting tobacco products.
Major hypermarket operators Carrefour, RT-Mart and Amart, and the Pxmart supermarket chain said they were maintaining their tobacco sales policies.
However, Costco said it would stop selling tobacco in its local outlets once its existing stocks were sold out.
More than 5.8 trillion cigarettes were smoked worldwide last year, about the same number as were smoked in 2013, according to a Reuters report relayed by the TMA and citing figures from the Tobacco Atlas.
The latest issue of the Atlas, which is produced by the World Lung Foundation (WLF) and the American Cancer Society, was released yesterday during the World Conference on Tobacco or Health, which is being held in Abu Dhabi this week.
The stability in the level of smoking was put down to rising consumption in China having balanced falling consumption elsewhere.
Meanwhile, in 2013, the last year for which detailed figures are available, 6.3 million people were said to have died from ‘smoking-related illness’.
At the same time, the top six transnational companies were said to have generated profits totaling US$44.1 billion, which the WLF said was equivalent to a profit of US$7,000 for each ‘smoking-related death’.
The report said that if current trends continued, a billion people would die a smoking-related death this century.
Low- and middle-income countries account for more than 80 percent of tobacco product users and tobacco-related deaths.
The report said also that in 24 countries the smoking rate among ‘girls’ was higher than the rate among ‘boys’, while in just two countries more women than men smoked.
Philip Morris USA has become the latest company to partner with Dominion Virginia Power under the Solar Partnership Program by hosting what will become the largest solar installation in Virginia, according to a Dominion press note issued through PRNewswire.
Dominion is currently installing about 8,000 ground-mounted solar panels at the PM USA Park 500 facility on Bermuda Hundred Road in Chesterfield County. When completed, the 2,450 kW solar array will generate enough electricity under optimum conditions to power 500 homes.
“At Dominion, we are constantly looking for the best way to produce energy safely, efficiently and in an environmentally responsible manner,” said Ken Barker, vice president of Technical Solutions. “This initiative is another step toward fulfilling Dominion’s commitment to substantially increase our solar generation portfolio in the Commonwealth. In Philip Morris, we are fortunate to have a partner that shares our commitment to clean, sustainable energy.”
The PM USA solar project is part of Dominion Virginia Power’s Solar Partnership Program in which Dominion leases rooftop or ground space at commercial, industrial or public facilities for the installation of solar panels. The program is designed to expand Dominion’s understanding of community-based solar energy by studying its impact and assessing its benefits while supporting and encouraging solar energy growth in Virginia. The energy generated by the solar panels is delivered to the power grid. Dominion is authorized to construct and operate up to 30 megawatts of company-owned solar facilities, enough to power up to 7,500 homes.
“PM USA understands the effect that nature may have on our business, which is why we continue our efforts to reduce environmental impacts at our manufacturing facilities,” said Greg Ray, PM USA senior vice president for smokeable manufacturing. “We are proud to host this solar project at our Park 500 plant, as it is adjacent to our award-winning on-site water treatment plant installed in 2008. These combined facilities will offer a real-world laboratory to showcase how manufacturing operations can work to reduce environmental impact and protect our vital natural resources.”
The World Health Organization’s chief, Dr. Margaret Chan, has urged global action to drive tobacco companies out of business, according to a Medical Xpress story.
Speaking at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) yesterday, Chan welcomed the steps taken by several companies, led by Australia, to introduce standardized tobacco packaging.
And she called for similar action to be taken by other nations.
Chan apparently told reporters that tobacco companies “use all sorts of tactics including funding political parties, individual politicians to work for them…”
“There is nothing they would not exploit to undermine the governments’ resolve and determination to protect their own people,” she was quoted as saying.
“It’s going to be a tough fight… [but] we should not give up until we make sure that the tobacco industry goes out of business.”
The WCTOH, which is being stage in Abu Dhabi, started on Tuesday and is due to end on Saturday.
This, the 16th WCTOH, has been billed as a scientific conference for the presentation of the latest developments in tobacco control and global efforts to reduce tobacco use in all its forms.