Tobacco Growing Free Countries: The example of Sri Lanka and Egypt

Source: Picture taken from video : 'Tobacco Residue: How People and Land in Bolivia Are Affected by Tobacco Growing' by Marty Otañez and Dennis Rada

At the WHO Global Conference on Non Communicable Diseases on 18 October, Hon. Dr. Rjitha Senaratne, Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, was announcing to the world Sri Lanka’s intention to ban tobacco growing as part of the Article 17 and 18 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) on alternative livelihoods to tobacco growing.

Tobacco farming and manufacturing have serious negative consequences on workers health, social wellbeing and economy as well as the devastating effect on the environment. All these are key elements to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

Sri Lanka is leading the way by announcing its intention to phase out tobacco cultivation within five years, with a reduction of approximately 15-20% per year. In order to reach this objective, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health are working hand in hand with tobacco growers to raise awareness and develop new ideas on how to better implement alternative activities and crops.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture of Egypt, when asked by the tobacco industry to start growing tobacco, publicly renewed its full support to the WHO FCTC by maintaining its status as a tobacco growing free country.

The Convention Secretariat continues to assist countries implementing policy options and recommendations of Art. 17 and 18 in favour of sustainable alternative to tobacco growing and fully supports Sri Lanka and Egypt’s initiatives.