MANILA, Philippines – On the 29th of October, the International Tobacco Growers
Association (ITGA) aims to celebrate World Tobacco Growers Day. Ideally an event to recognize tobacco farmers worldwide, the timing of this Congress proves suspicious for some health advocates.
“This is just another attempt of the tobacco industry to distract from the core tobacco control issues that will be discussed at the 5th Conference of Parties of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (COP5).” says Atty. Irene Reyes, Managing Director of HealthJustice Philippines.
The COP5 will be on November 12-17, 2012 in Seoul, South Korea. The agenda includes the possible adoption of a protocol to combat illicit trade of tobacco products and guidelines implementing Article 6 of the FCTC or price and tax measures to reduce tobacco consumption.
“The tobacco industry has long history of using front groups like retailers and growers association as its mouthpiece to claim that tobacco-related agriculture boosts jobs and economic growth. Even the WHO acknowledges that the tobacco industry created and continues to fund ITGA to infiltrate and push its deadly agenda to governments around the world” continues Reyes.
The loss of livelihood for tobacco farmers has long been an argument against the passage of the Sin Tax bill, an effective tobacco control measure aimed to curb the rising smoking prevalence rates in the country.
“Hindi dapat ikatakot ng mga magsasaka ng tobacco ang pagtaas ng buwis sa mga sigarilyo. Mas kailangan naming ng proteksyon mula sa gobyerno laban sa hindi patas na pagprepresyo ng industriya sa pananim na tobacco,” says Avelino Dacanay, representative of the Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation, better known as Stop-Ex.
A former tobacco farmer, Dacanay has shifted to planting corn which he says is better for the health and more profitable to boot. Now, he also speaks against exploitative labor practices of the tobacco industry against tobacco farmers. ###