Friday, April 13, 2018

Big Baccy

If Americans and Europeans think the tobacco giants have been slain, however, they are sorely mistaken. Far from accepting defeat, Western tobacco companies like British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris International (PMI) have instead set their sights on Africa to protect their profit margins. Tough tobacco regulation in their home markets has led them to export their deadly business to the Global South.

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."

Full article here

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