Regional tobacco control alliance condemns tobacco growers conference
Bangkok-24 September 2012: The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) today condemned the international tobacco conference to be held in Manila, tomorrow September 25, warning of industry “deception” and “misinformation” that could be designed to mislead tobacco farmers into baseless panic and insecurity.
SEATCA noted that the head of the International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) who has been rousing farmers in Southeast Asia by providing them with misleading information, will be in the Philippines. The ITGA which is a front group of the tobacco companies will continue its misinformation campaign in this gathering of farmers from China, India, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Although the FCTC document does not propose eliminating tobacco farming the ITGA will discuss what it call serious threats to forcibly eliminate tobacco growing by the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).”
SEATCA Director Bungon Ritthiphakdee said ITGA is “clearly perpetuating a falsehood – a strategy also used by the tobacco industry in other parts of the world – that the tobacco control measures to which the Philippines is committed will leave them all twisting in the wind. This is not true. In fact, 15% excise tax allocation goes into the welfare of farmers to take care of them.”
Ritthiphakdee said “this deception and misinformation is a desperate attempt by the industry to rabble rouse, and to rally farmers to defend them and protect their profits.”
The SEATCA director pointed out that “Malaysia has put in place a successful programme on alternate crops to tobacco growing. – kenaf. This has been completely ignored by the ITGA. Farmers who are victims to smoking also need to be protected. there are programs and options in place, and that can be adapted from best practices worldwide, to protect people from the dangers of smoking.
The Philippines, she added, “will see farmers surviving on alternative livelihoods, assisted by government revenues, which is a long term program and not focused on increasing foreign tobacco company’s profits.” (ENDS)