Tobacco is responsible for 8 million deaths each year, according to the international organization.
On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement this week inviting governments to stop encouraging tobacco crops and promote others that can provide food for millions of people. The organization recalls that more than 300 million people face food insecurity in the world, while more than 3 million hectares are used to grow tobacco.
According to the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, tobacco is responsible for 8 million deaths each year, while many countries provide financial aid to farmers who grow this substance.
Tobacco is not only harmful to consumers, but also to the farmers who grow it. Not in vain, “are exposed to chemical pesticides, tobacco smoke and as much nicotine as 50 cigarettes, leading to chronic nicotine lung diseases,” according to WHO Director of Health Promotion Dr. Ruediger Krech. It is also estimated that more than a million children work in tobacco fields, many of them losing the possibility of receiving formal education.
The WHO report, entitled ‘Grow food, not tobacco’, also notes the expansion of tobacco companies in Africa, which since 2005 have experienced a 20% increase across the continent. While tobacco crops have declined in industrialized countries, tobacco companies are looking for new destinations and farmers, who are trapped in debt to continue producing these crops.
In this context, the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) support the ‘Tobacco-Free Farms’ initiative, which will provide assistance to more than 5,000 farmers in Kenya y Zambia to grow sustainable produce instead of tobacco