Tobacco growers from across the world appealed to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) for Transparency, Democratic Process and Openness at the forthcoming 7th Conference of Parties (COP) of the WHO Framework Convention in India in November 2016.
The tobacco growers from across the world took the opportunity of the ITGA Annual Meeting to emphasize that Tobacco is a remunerative crop providing livelihood to millions of farmers, farm workers and their family members and contributing significantly to the economies of tobacco growing countries.
Tobacco growers representing growers’ organizations from India, Indonesia, South Africa, Portugal, Zimbabwe, Philippines, Brazil, Bulgária, Italy, Lebanon, Malawi, Tanzânia, USA and Zambia, met in New Delhi recently and expressed grave concern over the threat posed to their occupation and livelihood by the unreasonably harsh and arbitrary regulatory measures being adopted by national governments in many parts of the world.
Growers noted with anguish that such anti-farmer regulatory policies are being driven by anti-tobacco activists without any real world knowledge of tobacco cultivation and the importance of tobacco to the economy of many countries or the livelihood challenges faced by the farming community in the tobacco growing regions of the world.
Growers do recognize the need to regulate the consumption of tobacco products but demand balanced and evidence-based regulations that do not cause devastating impact on the livelihood of the millions of tobacco growers without achieving the desired objectives of tobacco control.
François van der Merwe, President, ITGA, said, “We appeal to national Governments to prevent the NGOs and other anti-tobacco activists from spreading their propaganda based on suspect and misleading data directed at influencing the Policy Making processes. Measures impacting tobacco cultivation and tobacco farmers cannot be decided only by health officials and activists and requires the participation of tobacco growers and other stakeholders including related ministries.”
Growers are highly apprehensive that the meeting will see COP7 participants agreeing to a host of extreme regulatory measures that impact tobacco cultivation and livelihood of tobacco growers in tobacco growing countries. Adoption of extreme measures at COP7 will directly and severely affect the livelihood of millions of tobacco farmers and farm workers around the world.
Farmers who earn their livelihood from tobacco cultivation need to understand the future agenda on tobacco control and to share their viewpoint on the impact of the proposed policy recommendations under the FCTC. It is very important for the Governments of tobacco growing countries including India, who are Parties to the FCTC as well, to ensure that COP7 deliberations are carried out in a transparent manner and that tobacco farmers are made an integral part of the Country Delegations to the COP7.
The growers called upon the Governments of tobacco growing countries to take up the cause of millions of tobacco farmers and strongly oppose unreasonable and livelihood-threatening policy recommendations at the COP7.