Tobacco Growers’ Share Concerns Over WHO Findings.
Concerns are widespread among tobacco growers in Pakistan. Historically, tobacco cultivation has been a significant contributor to the country’s economy, yielding a considerable share of export revenue.
Growers fear that Pakistan’s ratification of the FCTC could lead to economic suicide, as tobacco production supports millions of families and bolsters the domestic economy.
They hope Pakistan’s involvement in discussions will yield viable economic solutions to safeguard their livelihoods.
Fawad Khan, spokesperson for Mustehkam Pakistan, emphasized that farmers, primarily responsible for tobacco cultivation, may resort to extreme measures if the FCTC’s stance on tobacco continues. The tobacco sector currently contributes over $1 billion in taxes, vital for managing the country’s IMF arrangement.
Tobacco Growers Protest WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
- Protest: Large group of premium tobacco producers and workers from Colombia, Panama, Honduras, and Nicaragua protest at the WHO convention on tobacco control.
- Concerns: Farmers express feeling excluded and unheard by WHO in decision-making regarding tobacco control measures.
- Demands: Respect for their traditional livelihood, transparency in WHO decisions, and collaborative solutions to address tobacco concerns while supporting growers’ livelihoods.
- Cultural significance: Highlight the cultural and historical importance of premium cigar production for their communities.
The theme “Grow Food, Not Tobacco” for WHO’s World No Tobacco Day 2023 underscores the importance of diversifying away from tobacco farming.
However, structural barriers hinder such diversification efforts, limiting their effectiveness.
Mushfiq Khan, a tobacco grower and head of the All Pakistan Tobacco Farmer Association, warned that reducing tobacco demand and supply could harm the national exchequer and push farmers towards criminal activities for sustenance. Given Pakistan’s already high corruption and crime index, this could exacerbate existing crises.
Tobacco growers advocate for their inclusion in discussions about their future, stressing the importance of being part of decision-making processes concerning their livelihoods.
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