WHO spreads key ‘grow-food-instead’ message on ‘World No Tobacco Day’

A considerable amount of land throughout the world is dedicated to growing tobacco.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is on 3 million hectares’-plus worth of land in all that this is being done. It’s acreage that could otherwise be utilized for not just growing edible crops but growing those crops sustainably. Adding insult to injury, tobacco is even being grown, quite astonishingly, in countries where people are starving.

To make matters worse, globally, there are over 300 million people for whom starvation poses an all-to-real and existential threat.

“A new WHO report, ‘Grow food, not tobacco,’ highlights the ills of tobacco growing and the benefits of switching to more sustainable food crops for farmers, communities, economies, the environment, and the world at large. The report also exposes the tobacco industry for trapping farmers in a vicious cycle of debt, propagating tobacco growing by exaggerating its economic benefits and lobbying through farming front groups,” the World Health Organization noted in its May 26, 2023 “WHO urges governments to stop subsidizing life-threatening tobacco crops,” news release.

The necessity of growing food to feed better than 7.5 billion people, livestock and more worldwide cannot be overstated. And, making the conscious choice to grow food crops and do so using the most sustainable means going seems a most prudent approach, especially where trying to counter some of the most detrimental effects brought on by a warming planet is concerned.

“By choosing to grow food instead of tobacco, we prioritize health, preserve ecosystems, and increase food security,” the WHO in the release in question emphasized.

Further, “‘Tobacco is responsible for 8 million deaths a year, yet governments across the world spend millions supporting tobacco farms,’ said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.”

Then there are those ancillary impacts that people should also be aware of. “Tobacco farming causes diseases to the farmers themselves and more than 1 million child laborers are estimated to be working on tobacco farms, missing their opportunity for an education,” the WHO moreover in the release brought to bear.

“‘Tobacco is not only a massive threat to food insecurity, but health overall, including the health of tobacco farmers. Farmers are exposed to chemical pesticides, tobacco smoke and as much nicotine as found in 50 cigarettes – leading to illnesses like chronic lung conditions and nicotine poisoning,’ said Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion at WHO.”

Tobacco is grown in more than 120 countries, Asia and South America being two primary standout continents. And, there is hard evidence that indicates land on which tobacco is being grown is expanding. “Since 2005, there has been a nearly 20% increase in tobacco farming land across Africa,” the WHO in the news statement insisted.

At the same time, it should be noted that the “WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme support the Tobacco Free Farms initiative that will provide help to more than 5000 farmers in Kenya and Zambia to grow sustainable food crops instead of tobacco.”

For much more, see: “WHO urges governments to stop subsidizing life-threatening tobacco crops,” news release at: who.int

⁃ Alan Kandel

Copyrighted material.

Corresponding, connected home-page-entry image: United States Department of Agriculture

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