Tobacco, poverty and hunger Reply

German tobacco control advocate and colleague Sonja von Eichborn, of Unfairtobacco, Berlin, writes for us about links between tobacco, poverty and hunger in a global sense.

How tobacco control can contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2:

In the face of the acute hunger crisis in Africa, the devastating impact of the climate phenomenon El Niño has been repeatedly in the news. But reports tend to neglect the various structural causes for hunger and poverty like industrialised agriculture and cash crop monoculture for export.

A look into tobacco growing countries reveals, that the choice of crop also has its impact. In Malawi, more than 8 million people will face hunger this year, according to the FAO. Still, tobacco is grown on 1,666 km² of arable land. But you cannot eat tobacco.

In the new SDG-Factsheet No. 1: Tobacco | Poverty | Hunger, Unfairtobacco traces these interrelations. But we also show: Tobacco use leads to poverty and hunger, because buying tobacco products and the cost of medication for tobacco related illnesses uses important financial resources. In Indonesia, for example, smokers’ households spend three times more money on tobacco than on education.

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