A few days after the World No Tobacco Day (May 31), the World Health Organization (WHO) today called on governments around the world to do not subsidize the cultivation of tobacco and support sustainable food crops instead.
“By choosing to grow food over tobacco, we give priority to health, we preserve ecosystems and strengthen food security for all”, said in a statement the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesuswho blamed tobacco for eight million deaths a year Worldwide.
The WHO estimated at three million hectares (an area comparable to that of the whole of Belgium) the surface of the planet that is occupied by tobacco crops in more than 120 countries, some of which have serious problems of food insecurity.
The organization has also published a new report today with the title “Grow food, not tobacco” in which he denounces tobacco companies for “trapping farmers in a vicious cycle of debt, propagating tobacco cultivation by exaggerating its economic benefits, and lobbying through farm groups.”
The WHO warns in the report that work on farms causes diseases to the farmers themselves, among whom more than a million children could be found.
“They are exposed to chemical pesticides, tobacco smoke and as much nicotine as is contained in 50 cigarettes, which causes chronic lung diseases and poisoning,” said WHO health promotion director Ruediger Krech.
WHO data shows that, in recent years, the number of countries where tobacco is grown has increased, especially in Africawhere since 2005 it has increased by almost one twenty% the area of land dedicated to this crop.
As part of the 2023 World No Tobacco Day events, the WHO will recognize the work of the Kenyan farmer Sprina Robi Chachawho has trained other farmers in his country to replace their tobacco crops with more sustainable ones.
In addition, the WHO and the World Food Program (WFP) will support, in both Kenya and Zambia, the UN initiative “Tobacco Free Farms”, which assists 5,000 farmers in both countries.
(With information from EFE)
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