The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

No such thing as fair trade tobacco

To highlight the exploitation of tobacco farmers in developing countries, a university professor has launched

The website is an online repository of photos and videos showing the tobacco industry’s exploitation of tobacco growing farmers in developing countries.

Malawi has one of the highest rates of tobacco-related bonded labour in the world. Cigarette manufacturers benefit from low and unpaid adult labour in this region. © Marty Otañez

The site’s creator is Dr Marty Otañez, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado in the United States. Announcing the website, he said there is no such thing as “fair trade tobacco”, as tobacco farming is associated with health, environmental and human rights violations.

“My goal is to draw attention to tobacco as a human rights issue and to corporate malfeasance in the global tobacco-farming sector,” Dr Otañez said.

“The purpose of this initiative is to document the direct links between tobacco companies’ exploitative farm-level practices and livelihoods of farmers and farm workers,” he added.

In Malawi's largest tobacco market place (during 2000) shoeless workers run with leaf to holding areas during auction. © Marty Otañez

According to Dr Otañez, the project also aims to help reduce an imbalance in global tobacco control, where funds and activities are primarily focused on consumption/demand issues, particularly in affluent countries.

As a result, he is calling on the World health Organization  to focus its next World No Tobacco Day (31 May 2012) on tobacco agriculture and industry practices that undermine human rights.

Dr Otañez says new visual material will be uploaded to the site monthly.

More information

If you would like to get involved with Dr Otañez’s project or send him photos/videos for the website then email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Share This