European growers demand voice at WHO tobacco meeting

The UNITAB association of European tobacco growers said lengthy research on a country-by-country basis is a prerequisite if the World Health Organisation is to meet its goal of reducing production by introducing crop alternatives.

“Inclusion of tobacco growing communities in the consultation and decision-making process must be guaranteed,” Union Internationale des Producteurs de Tabac (UNITAB) said in a statement approved at its annual meeting this October in Sofia, Bulgaria. Introducing alternatives to tobacco growing is on the agenda for the semi-annual meeting of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in November.
“It is key to carry out detailed and long-term research to identify possible and appropriate, economically sustainable alternatives to tobacco for each tobacco growing country, taking into account climatic, geographic and social characteristics,” UNITAB said. Any other approach to imposing alternatives is unacceptable, the group said.
European tobacco production sustains more than 65,000 families and generates 300,000 direct jobs, often in some of the poorest regions of the European Union, according to UNITAB. Farmer organisations in India, where the seventh meeting of the FCTC’s Congress of the Parties is scheduled for 7-12 Nov, also have demanded representation at the COP, where tobacco interests usually are shut out of deliberations.
At its October meeting, Paris-based UNITAB also elected Tsvetan Filev, head of the Bulgarian national association of tobacco growers, as its president for a two-year term.

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