Tobacco Companies Should Not Be Counted On To Promote Sustainable Development

Devex: Opinion: Tobacco companies will not bring about sustainable development
Jeffrey Drope, vice president of Economic and Health Policy Research at the American Cancer Society and professor in residence of global public health at Marquette University, and colleagues

“Tobacco companies … are typically highly profitable and create strong supply chains. This has led to some in the development community viewing them as potential partners in promoting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. … Based on existing conditions and persistent business practices, we are deeply skeptical that this is a viable proposition. … We strongly support the development of alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers, extending to the creation of supply chains and value-adding capacities for alternative crops. However, we see no role for tobacco companies to assist in this process, despite their knowledge, skills, and global supply chains. The political and economic legacies of the tobacco industry are not ones that encourage trust in the likelihood of fair or healthy outcomes compatible with the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)]. … Rather, this is a role for government agencies, potentially with the support of international organizations, civil society, or other private companies involved in non-tobacco agricultural development. The empirical research strongly supports this position and should underpin efforts to promote viable alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers going forward” (3/5).

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