African COMESA countries against WHO's attempt to ban ingredients used in blended tobacco..

September 21, 2010 - The Common Market for Eastern and Southern African (COMESA) is opposed to the World Health Organisation's attempts to push through a ban of ingredients used in producing blended tobacco.

These ingredients are laboratory produced compounds ranging from sweetners, sugars and flavours such as menthol, maltol and vanillin, used to improve the palatability of tobacco.

Burley -- a popular tobacco type in British American Tobacco markets (especially the US) is the most common type grown in the Comesa region -- mainly in eastern and southern African countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique -- and which requires blending. Scientists claim that smoke from burley tobacco tends to have a harsh taste during curing, necessitating use of ingredients like glucose, menthol and ginger, or blending it with other types to tone down its character.

A ban of the manufacture of the blending compounds would mean a loss of market for Comesa-grown tobacco, and a loss for farmers.

Even the burley tobacco growers in the United States have sounded the alarm. They are concerned that the proposed regulations could lead to a worldwide ban on blended, American-style cigarettes that contain burley tobacco. (U.S. Burley tobacco growers - WHO FCTC articles elimination of American-style cigarettes..) In this case the United States government can not help because they are not party to the WHO FCTC public health treaty. (Time for USA to be part of the world community..

The FOURTEENTH Summit of the Authority of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) was held at Lozitha Palace, Kingdom of eSwatini (Swaziland), on 31st August to 1st September 2010

URGED Member States which are Parties to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) to urgently write to the WHO FCTC before the Conference of Parties (CoP) opposing the recommended ban of ingredients for blended tobacco proposed in the guidelines on Articles 9 and 10.

(Draft guidelines for the implementation of Articles 9 and 10 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control)

URGED Member States which are parties to the FCTC to urgently write to the Secretariat of the FCTC before the COP meeting pointing out the inadequacy of the policy options on alternative livelihoods to tobacco growing (Article 17 and 18) because they are based on wrong assumptions and do not provide mechanisms to support the diversification from tobacco

(Economically sustainable alternatives to tobacco growing (in relation to Articles 17 and 18 of the
WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control)

FURTHER URGED Member States to request, in their submissions, that the FCTC put in place proper consultation mechanisms for all affected stakeholders to participate in any future development of FCTC guidelines.
For most of Comesa, whose member states are struggling to get out of poverty through agriculture, implementing the WHO guidelines would mean a loss of livelihood for many tobacco growers who have no immediate alternative, hence a crippling of national economies.

According to the association, part of the problem is that WHO officials in Geneva do not have a sufficient understanding of how important the tobacco industry is to many African countries, and the disastrous consequences its ban will have for many of these countries.

Apart from hundreds of thousands of African tobacco-producing farmers being pushed out of business, the WHO has not sufficiently addressed viable agricultural alternatives.

In Malawi for instance, 70 per cent of the population derives an income directly or indirectly from the tobacco industry -- with 700,000 farmers involved in tobacco cultivation, generating at least 35 percent of its gross domestic product. Uganda has 70,000 tobacco farmers, who generate $66 million per annum. Zimbabwe has 55,000 smallscale tobacco farmers.

Reference: East Africa: Comesa to Petition UN On WHO Tobacco Ban, Julius Barigaba,, 9/20/2010.

Some related news briefs:
WHO FCTC - developing countries need alternative to tobacco growing plus stoppage of cigarette smuggling..;
Europe - tobacco growers are worried but no change until an alternative is found..;
Asian Tobacco Farmers worried Article 9 & 10 WHO FCTC..;
U.S. Burley tobacco growers - WHO FCTC articles elimination of American-style cigarettes..;
Thailand govt - wants to ban the growing of Burley and Oriental tobacco..;
Canada - bill to ban flavored tobacco products gets final approval - Burley Tobacco...