Demanded that its cultivation be replaced with more sustainable food crops

New WHO study: Tobacco kills 8 million people every year

In a new study published on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for replacing tobacco cultivation with more sustainable food crops that contribute to protecting food security around the world.

According to the study, tobacco is grown in more than 124 countries, where the harmful plant occupies about 3.2 million hectares of fertile land that can be used to grow food.

The WHO has expressed dismay at turning these fertile lands into a source of production for a crop that kills more than 8 million people every year, undermines global economies and damages the environment, while 79 countries face severe food insecurity.

Brazil, China and India produce more than 55% of the world's tobacco crops, followed by Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique, Turkey, Tanzania, the United States and Zimbabwe.

According to the study, large tobacco companies sought to reduce production costs by moving the cultivation and production of tobacco leaves to low-income countries, especially on the African continent.

From 2005 to 2020, the area under tobacco cultivation globally decreased by 15.8%, while in the African continent it increased by 19.8%, with East Africa accounting for 88.5% of the production of tobacco leaves in the poor continent.

While North African countries play little or no role in tobacco production, at the same time they have significant trade volumes in importing raw tobacco or cigarettes.

The study stressed that the tobacco industry was trying to undermine anti-smoking efforts.

"What is not much discussed is the misconception that tobacco farming is a very profitable business for smallholder farmers, good for the economy in general, and the economic contribution of tobacco cultivation to local and national economies, employment figures and the national trade balance are usually highlighted," she said.

On the other hand, the WHO said in its report that there are 1.3 million children globally involved in tobacco cultivation, and that most of them belong to poor families, which makes them miss school to help their parents in that cultivation.

The study confirmed that children's tasks in that cultivation include mixing and using pesticides, harvesting tobacco leaves by hand and tying them to sticks to dry, and sorting and classifying dried tobacco, which exposes them to harmful chemicals and nicotine.

A previous WHO study reported that tobacco caused the death of 100 million people worldwide during the <>th century.

This is why support policies for developing countries assert that tobacco could be the number one cause of 80% of deaths until 2030 in middle- and low-income countries.

The organization sounded the alarm over the rising number of deaths due to involuntary or secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke is the inhalation of smoke that fills restaurants, offices or other enclosed spaces, when smokers burn tobacco products, such as cigarettes and hookahs. More than 4000,250 chemicals are circulating in the air, of which at least 50 are known to be harmful and another <> are known to cause cancer.

In addition, second-hand smoke causes adults to develop serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. It causes sudden death in infants.

Almost half of children regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke in public places, and more than 40% live with a smoker, whether it is the father, mother or both.

According to the World Health Organization, "in 2004, children accounted for 28% of second-hand smoke deaths."

Since 2005, WHO has committed to combating tobacco use globally, through an agreement signed in February by 178 Parties.

The Convention revolves around tobacco control through unified mechanisms, and the global body notes that it is "one of the most accepted treaties in the history of the United Nations."

In the eyes of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Convention has become "the most important tool for tobacco control, a data-driven treaty that affirms the right of peoples to the highest attainable standard of health, provides legal dimensions for international health cooperation and sets high standards for compliance."