September 6, 2010 - Nearly 10,000 families of Burley tobacco planters in Sukhothai have called on the Public Health Ministry to reconsider its plan to ban or phase out growing of two tobacco varieties. The ban on Burley and Oriental tobacco, in compliance with an international agreement on tobacco control, would leave only Virginia in the market, said Somnuek Yimpim, the headman of Thap Pueng subdistrict.
Somreung Thanasup, the Wangthong subdistrict headman, said tobacco growers in Sukhothai would join with Burley and Oriental growers in other provinces to ask the ministry to reconsider its position. He estimated that a ban would affect 100,000 families across the country.
The Public Health Ministry is preparing to ratify the pact initiated by the World Health Organisation in 2003. Three tobacco varieties now dominate the world market and Thailand grows all three: Virginia in the North, Burley in the central region and Oriental in the Northeast.
Directly related news brief: U.S. Burley tobacco growers - WHO FCTC articles elimination of American-style cigarettes..
During the curing process, burley tobacco becomes harsh tasting, so manufacturers add ingredients and sometimes blend different types of tobacco to make cigarettes made with burley more pleasant to smokers. The thinking behind the WHO guideline is that nothing should be done to make the product more alluring to potential smokers. (Tobacco additives issue set to take world stage by Tim Thornberry, Bizlex.com, 9/1/2010.
The WHO plans a meeting in November where 168 member countries are to vote on the final agreement, which was spearheaded by Canada and the European Union. (Tobacco's fate to be known in November, Philip Pemba, The Nation, 6/25/2010)
The panel to draft the tobacco control pact was set up last year with 24 countries including Thailand participating.
"Moves to control new smokers are beyond our control, and I think aggressive campaigns on tobacco control by the Public Health Ministry are very good," said Mr Somnuek.
"But we have planted Burley tobacco for a living for more than 60 years. What will we do if we can no longer grow it?" He said tobacco cultivation in Sukhothai took place from November to February and did not overlap with rice growing. Tobacco also provides a better return than rice because fertiliser and pesticide costs are lower, he said.
Reference: Tobacco ban worries growers, BangkokPost.com, 9/6/2010.
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Philippines - Thai cigarette import rules..;
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Congratulations.. Thailand Joins Developed World With Total Ban On Smoking..;
Discouraging Tobacco Use - Horrific Images on the Packaging..
- Thailand is a member of Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA)..