Tobacco And The Environment Presentation
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Tobacco And The Environment Presentation

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This presentation discusses the negative effects big tobacco is having on third world countries.

This presentation discusses the negative effects big tobacco is having on third world countries.

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  • This presentation is based on one provided by me to folks in Missouri and Kansas several years ago. Some of the information provided here is from personal encounters that I had in tobacco growing regions. Any questions or for clarification, please feel free to contact me.
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  • $2500 per crop per year which they borrow from tobacco company. The crops only yield 80-90% so each year they go deeper and deeper into debt with the tobacco company.
  • The average number of beedies a bonded child laborer rolls in a day is 1,500, for an average daily wage of nine rupees.


  • 1. Tobacco and the Environment
  • 2. Tobacco and the Environment
    • As tobacco sales in the United States go down, international sales go up, especially in third world countries.
    • Why is this?
        • Cheep labor
        • Lack of education
        • Lack of regulation
    • Tobacco farmers are told by British American Tobacco that “ You must treat tobacco better than your first born child.”
  • 3.  
  • 4. Tobacco = Poverty
    • Land under tobacco cultivation around the world today could feed 10-12 million people each year if planted in food crops instead
  • 5.
    • Tobacco farming is labor intensive and requires costly inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. In Brazil, the world's largest exporter of tobacco, officials were predicting that, in 1998, 35% of tobacco growers would finish the harvest owing more money to the tobacco companies than they earned.
  • 6.
    • The use of child laborers in tobacco production is widespread in major tobacco producing countries.
    • In Brazil, 520,000 children under 18 years of age work on tobacco farms, 32 percent of them are younger than 14.
  • 7. Solomy Leston poses in front of her tobacco drying racks with her young son. She and her husband made around $300 from their tobacco crop in the past year.
  • 8.
    • Working on tobacco farms causes addiction to nicotine
    • In Vietnam, one carton of cigarettes = 1/3 of the person’s monthly income
  • 9. What is a Beedi?
    • "Beedi" is a domestically-produced and consumed Indian cigarette.
    • Beedi rolling is stationary work; the children sit cross-legged on the ground or floor all day, with a large and smoothly woven shallow basket in their laps. The basket holds a pile of tobacco and a stack of rectangular rolling papers cut from the large leaves of the tendu plant. The child takes a paper, sprinkles tobacco into it, rolls it up tightly, and ties it with string. The tips are closed either by the roller herself or by a younger child, typically four to seven years old; young children often begin their beedi careers by working as tip closers.
  • 10. Bonded Labor
    • Children are forced to sit cross legged for hours
    • This causes deformities as they grow because of their constant sitting position
    • If they look away, they are usually beaten
    • Most severe consequence is lung cancer from inhaling so much tobacco dust
    Suresh is learning to make beedies; he is only seven.
  • 11.  
  • 12. Bonded Child Labor
    • My sister is ten years old. Every morning at seven she goes to the bonded labor man, and every night at nine she comes home. He treats her badly; he hits her if he thinks she is working slowly or if she talks to the other children, he yells at her, he comes looking for her if she is sick and cannot go to work. I feel this is very difficult for her.
    • I don't care about school or playing. I don't care about any of that. All I want is to bring my sister home from the bonded labor man. For 600 rupees I can bring her home-that is our only chance to get her back.
    • We don't have 600 rupees . . . we will never have 600 rupees.
    • -Lakshmi, nine year-old beedi (cigarette) roller, Tamil Nadu. 600 rupees is the equivalent of approximately $17
  • 13. How you can buy a child or village out of bonded labor:
    • World Vision
    • Amnesty International
    • International Justice Mission
  • 14. Tobacco and the Environment
    • Deforestation
    • Desertification
    • Soil Depletion
    • Chemical Poisoning / Toxins
  • 15. Deforestation
  • 16. Deforestation 100,000 of Brazil’s tobacco farmers use the wood of 60 million trees per year.
  • 17. Deforestation
    • While British American Tobacco (BAT) companies say that they are concerned about tobacco related deforestation, their tree-planting programs are often poorly designed. BAT’s website admits that wood is used in two-thirds of company growing operations in 20 countries and that many of these use wood for half or more of their curing.
  • 18. What BAT is “Doing” about Deforestation?
    • The company claims that they have run ambitious afforestation programs since the 1970s, sponsoring and promoting the planting of renewable woodlands around the world in the last three decades.
    • BAT doesn’t mention what kinds of trees are planted, nor what percentage o trees make it to maturity.
    • BAT claims that as a condition of contract, farmers who use wood become ‘self-sufficient’ by planting trees to supply their own fuel needs.
  • 19. Desertification
    • “ The lands are increasingly becoming bare and barren, unproductive, caked and ugly and blistering. BAT claims to be engaged in reforestation programs. I am yet to see a single mature tree that BAT has planted in Kuria district. In any case, the rate of deforestation is far too fast to be equal to the rate of reforestation.”
    • - Samson Mwita Marwa, a tobacco farmer and former member of Parliament from the Kuria district in Kenya.
  • 20. Desertification
  • 21. Soil Depletion
  • 22. Soil Depletion
    • Tobacco is such a hungry plant that it causes soil depletion.
      • Take extra nutrients out of the soil
      • Use up water supply
    • Once the farmer’s land is no good, BAT picks up and moves on to another farmers land leaving the original farmer with no resources for work or survival.
  • 23. Chemical Poisoning / Toxins
    • During the first 3 months of life, tobacco plants require 16 chemical treatments.
    • Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides poison farm workers, seep into the soil and pollute waterways and ecological systems, and poison livestock and food crops.
  • 24. Chemical Poisoning / Toxins
    • 55% of tobacco growers in Southern Brazil were not using the recommended protective clothing, including masks, gloves, boots and long-sleeved or water-repellent overshirts.
    • BAT sells the protective suits for $37 each which is equivalent of more than one quarter of the average monthly salary of tobacco farmers in the region.
  • 25. Chemical Poisoning / Toxins
  • 26. Chemical Poisoning / Toxins
    • To Americans, this is a warning label, but to other cultures, this symbol means medicine.
  • 27. Chemical Poisoning / Toxins
    • “ From the day the nursery is laid, to the day the pay check is collected, the farmer inhales an assortment of chemicals, which does not do him any good. To make maters worse, the farmer has no protective gloves, gas masks, gun boots or dust-coats during his sad sentence as a tobacco farmer. Thus, at the end of the farming season, the farmer spends all he earned from the crop, sometimes more, to seek medication. At the Kehancha District Hospital, more that 60% of deaths are due to tobacco-related ailments. Infant mortality is also on the increase as are the incidents of unexplained miscarriages, just to mention a few…Tobacco nurseries are situated near water masses, most times at the source. Thus, as the farmer waters his chemical-drenched seedbed, the water flows back to the river carrying with it remmants of such chemicals. It does not need much intelligence to figure out that the same water will be used downstream by communities and their animals. The result is a proliferation of all sorts of ailments assaulting man and beast in the area…”
    • - Testimony of Samson Mwita Marwa, tobacco farmer and former Kenya member of parliament, before the WHO Public hearings on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
  • 28.  
  • 29. Green Tobacco Sickness
    • Unlike most food and cash crops, tobacco itself can be toxic to workers. Green tobacco sickness (GTS) is an occupational illness found among workers harvesting tobacco which is caused by skin absorption of nicotine from contact with wet tobacco leaves.
  • 30. Green Tobacco Sickness
    • GTS is characterized by symptoms that may include nausea, vomiting, weakness, headache, dizziness, abdominal cramps, difficulty in breathing, as well as fluctuations in blood pressure and heart rates.
    • Local farmers and health care workers often confuse these symptoms with heat exhaustion or pesticide poisoning, especially if pesticides have recently been applied to the crop.
  • 31. Green Tobacco Sickness
    • During harvest time, the average field worker may be exposed to up to 600 milliliters of dew or rain on the tobacco plants, the rough equivalent of the nicotine content of 36 cigarettes. This moisture collects on the worker’s clothing, effectively wrapping them in a giant contiguous nicotine patch.
  • 32.  
  • 33. Hilary Meister [email_address] 660-7198