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Zimbabwe tobacco farmers oppose WHO's plain packaging campaign


Tobacco farmers in Zimbabwe say they are opposed to a World Health Organization (WHO) campaign advocating for plain and standardized packaging on all tobacco products.

The farmers contend that their livelihoods depend on the product and it is not proper for the WHO to kill their business because they would have nothing to depend on without tobacco.

“We survive on Tobacco. My bosses survive on tobacco so this campaign if it goes on it will affect some people,” said Joseph Gwanzura, a tobacco farmer in Zimbabwe.

“These anti-tobacco campaigns are not good at all they are killing our business. Some of us we were born and grew up in this tobacco industry. We pay our children’s school fees and buy food from tobacco and there is now way I will reduce tobacco production,” Concellia Chakafara, a tobacco farmer in Zimbabwe.

Tobacco is a major export in Zimbabwe and accounts for 60% of the total agricultural exports. Some Zimbabweans link the anti-tobacco campaign to economical fallout to countries that heavily depend on the substance as major export.

Tobacco farmers earn more than US$200 Million | Zimbabwe News today & Breaking news | Read on https://t.co/kqjKo33iiS

— Newsday #Zimbabwe (@newsdayreporter) May 23, 2016

“It’s actually promoting our industries and also sustaining many families in the agricultural sector. We should actually encourage the growing of tobacco and let people make their own personal decisions,” said Eddie Kuipa, a smoker.

Tendai Chiriseri, one of the tobacco user criticised the move to reduce the attractiveness of tobacco product by WHO, but instead advocated for proper education of the nicotine substance to the smokers.

“People should be educated on ways to smoke cigarette. They shouldn’t be allowed to smoke in the public areas because it’s dangerous.”

The WHO is drawing attention to the role of plain packaging of tobacco products as part of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control, including comprehensive bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship and graphic health warnings.

Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death worldwide and is responsible for the deaths of approximately half of its long-term users. An often-quoted statistic is that tobacco use killed 100 million people in the 20th century and will kill one billion people in the 21st century if current trends continue.

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