News / Africa

Africa Tobacco Growers Fight Anti-Smoking Initiative

FILE - Indigenous tobacco farmers are seen at Boka Tobacco auction floors, in Harare, Zimbabwe, Tuesday May 14, 2013.
FILE - Indigenous tobacco farmers are seen at Boka Tobacco auction floors, in Harare, Zimbabwe, Tuesday May 14, 2013.

The International Tobacco Growers Association says it will fight moves by the World Health Organization and some African nations to discourage smoking, saying the campaign has economic consequences. The association has been meeting with African tobacco farmers in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare.

After a three-day meeting in Harare, the president of the International Tobacco Growers Association, Francois van der Merwe, told VOA that the anti-tobacco campaign would result in the economy of some countries crashing as they depend heavily on the leaf.   

“The anti-tobacco lobby is very vocal, very extreme and very out of touch lobby," said van der Merwe. "They have one thing in mind and that is to damage the tobacco industry.  The best thing for them is to start working with the tobacco industry so that they can understand the tobacco industry.  By extreme measures we will damage the industry which makes huge contributions all around the world.”

In Zimbabwe, tobacco is overwhelmingly the main cash crop.  This year, it expects to export more than $600 million worth of tobacco, mainly to China.
The World Food Program says that farmers’ reliance on tobacco has contributed to the country’s food shortages.

Farmers shun staple crops such as maize and favor tobacco, which they call “golden leaf” despite the hazards of smoking and the calls for anti-smoking campaigns by the WHO.

That explains why Norman Chakanetsa, a tobacco farmer and a government official, is totally against the idea of a strong anti-smoking campaign.  I asked him what would happen to Zimbabwe if demand for tobacco significantly dropped.

“Tobacco is very important for the economy and we earn a lot of money from tobacco," said Chakanetsa. "If it falls, we need something that takes that slack that would have been created by that fall.  It will actually affect the revenue to the fiscus (treasury) and the livelihood of the people and the standard of living… We will have difficult economic times.”

The International Tobacco Growers Association says that a total of 24 million Africans across 15 countries depend on the tobacco industry for their livelihood.

It is for this reason that the association says it will make its voice heard at an upcoming international conference on tobacco control, taking place this October in Moscow.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 04, 2014 11:51 PM
Welcome to the world of anti-tobacco people!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs