As one of the leading causes of deaths in America, tobacco has been a product that has been produced worldwide and is still being used a lot today. Tobacco kills about half of its users and leads to 6 million deaths a year.
90% percent of tobacco is produced in low and middle income countries. In a report from the WHO, they stated that more than 40% is produced in China alone, and Brazil, Argentina, Bangladesh, Malawi, and Zimbabwe are among the top producers. The report says that about half of all smokers live in either Southeast Asia or the Western Pacific region.
In recent times, some governments, including America, have made attempts to help small farmers switch to alternative products. They believe that this could lead to a sustainable local economic development to help get rid of tobacco production.
However, there are some obstacles to this solution. If farmers switch to another alternative product, international trade will be affected. For example, production has dropped in the U.S. and Canada which led to price supports and traditional producing members of the European Union going away.
The the effect led to a declining production of good leaves in HICs, and LMICs (High Income Companies and Low and Middle Income Factories)have improved the quality of leaf they grow and opened up increased prices.
More importantly, the report states, “Recent trends in the organization of the tobacco leaf production and marketing chain, including use of integrated production systems, has expanded these multinational corporations’ control over price and other factors while making farmers increasingly dependent” (WHO).
families that work for tobacco companies heavily rely on this product to support themselves. It’s not a couple of families, but actually millions according to the WHO.
Finally, substitutes for the product require investments in infrastructures and are highly specific to a country.
Right now, many programs are trying to find alternative crops to replace tobacco while raising prices for tobacco. It is a slow process, but the WHO hopes for a drop in the production of tobacco. Although tobacco is hard to get rid of, there are many efforts that are trying to eliminate this top killer.