World anti-smoking crusade threat to Zim’s tobacco industry

17 Mar, 2023 - 00:03 0 Views
World anti-smoking crusade threat to Zim’s tobacco industry

eBusiness Weekly

Business Writer 

The global anti-smoking campaign remains a huge threat to Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry, a senior official has warned, while calling for sustainable ways of growing and curing the crop to avoid losing an increasingly sensitive customer base.

Patrick Devenish, chairman of the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), said the global demand for tobacco was under threat from the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a treaty seeking to curb smoking.

Tobacco is Zimbabwe’s biggest foreign currency earner after gold and is grown by nearly 150 000 smallholder farmers who were resettled under the land reform programme.

“We emphasise that this year and in the years to come we should cure our golden leaf sustainably,” said Devenish during the official launch of the 2023 tobacco marketing season. “Sustainability involves looking at the climate as well as profitability.

“Upgrade to efficient curing facilities that use less energy and desist from deforestation. If you still have wood-fired curing facilities use wood from sustainable woodlots.

“For your future operations, plant trees. At least 0,3 hectares for every hectare of tobacco grown.

“There is a ready market for Zimbabwe flavour tobacco, but the World Health Organisation FCTC is fighting us to ban tobacco.

“The global demand for tobacco is going down and if we ignore the Sustainable Tobacco Programme, we will lose our international off-takers and this venture will become unprofitable,” Devenish added.

This week, five southern African countries calling themselves “T5”— Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Zambia met in Victoria Falls to deliberate on strategies to save their industries from a potential threat of anti-smoking campaign.

The meeting attracted stakeholders from the five countries as well as various international tobacco players. The coalition was formed to counter the global anti-tobacco lobby, which seeks to ban tobacco due to health hazards associated with smoking.

Apart from health-related issues, global anti-tobacco activists have also cited the abuse of children in tobacco fields.

Tobacco is a major source of livelihood for the rural population in the SADC region and the ban would have far-reaching negative impacts.

New devices

The global anti-tobacco ban has seen some cigarette manufacturers developing e-cigarettes to replace conventional sticks with science-based smoke-free products.

The devices provide nicotine without burning, making them a much better alternative to cigarettes.

However, the World Health Organisation argues electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products are not helping fight cancer urging the Government not to trust claims from cigarette firms about their latest products.

Some tobacco experts argue that when the WHO drafted the FCTC treaty, global tobacco sales were dominated by combustible cigarettes.

“The emergence of new technologies, such as e-cigarettes and tobacco-heating products such as shisha, have rendered many of the assumptions on which the treaty is based obsolete.

According to Centres of Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use causes more than 7 million deaths per year and if the pattern of smoking all over the globe doesn’t change, more than 8 million people a year will die
from diseases related to tobacco use by 2030.

It says cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480 000 deaths per year in the US, including more than 41 000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure.

This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1 300 deaths every day.

On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers.

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