Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

Agricultural and employment issues

Many governments have been reluctant to implement strong tobacco policies because of fears that they would have adverse effects on the economy, and, in particular, generate unemployment among farmers. However, it is important to note that the tobacco sector represents a small fraction of most countries' economies. The World Bank says that, for all but a very few agrarian countries heavily dependent on tobacco farming, there would be no net loss of jobs from tobacco control policies, and there might even be job gains if global tobacco consumption falls.

Projections made by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) show trends of tobacco production, consumption and trade at the global level through 2010. This analysis shows that global production and consumption will increase in the years to come, but there will be a shift from developed to developing countries. Both tobacco production and consumption are predicted to decrease in developed countries while increasing in developing countries. As a result, developing countries will become net exporters of tobacco while developed countries will become net importers. This analysis shows that the fear of tobacco farmers losing their jobs in developing countries is not likely for some time, and that governments of developed countries will likely need to find ways to help their tobacco farmers switch to growing other crops once tobacco production is outsourced to developing countries.

The 2003 World Health Report estimates the number of tobacco users worldwide at 1.3 billion in 2003. This number is expected to rise to more than 1.7 billion by 2025 if the global prevalence of tobacco use remains unchanged. Even assuming a decrease of overall prevalence in every country of the world at an annual rate of one percent, the number of consumers nevertheless will increase to 1.46 billion in 2025.

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