These companies stop at nothing to target vulnerable populations on the continent, bribing corrupt government officials and attacking anti-smoking activists, while threatening African governments. They exploit poverty, pushing the narrative that tobacco cultivation will bring prosperity to cash-strapped regions, and luring African farmers with the tantalizing opportunity to be paid in cash at the end of the season.
These tactics have proven effective: African countries south of the Sahara saw smoking rates rise 52 percent from 1980 to 2016. As the World Health Organization's (WHO) director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus remarked a few weeks ago, Africa has become "ground zero for the war on tobacco."
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