14 Jun 2012
Low and middle income countries, such as Bolivia and Honduras, are increasingly bearing the brunt of the tobacco epidemic, but governments have been slow to react. While effective tobacco control measures exist, very few countries have included them within their broader development plans. Consequently, support from international partners for tobacco control has been limited.
Tobacco impoverishes those who grow it, as well as those who use it. Research on tobacco and poverty from Honduras, reveals social and economic disadvantages experienced by tobacco workers, who earn less than the national minimum wage. As a result, some farmers suffer from malnutrition, are marginalised, and have trouble accessing social services.
Statistics from Bolivia show additional worrying trends. Seven Bolivians die prematurely every day from tobacco related-diseases. These deaths represent not only human suffering, but also a socioeconomic burden due to lost income at the household level and decreased productivity nationally. Having tobacco taxes below the regional average adds to the country’s economic loss from tobacco use.
However, after months of active campaigning, both Bolivia and Honduras can celebrate initial progress in promoting tobacco control as a tool for development.
Bolivia’s newly established United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), 2013-2017, recognises FCTC implementation as one of its objectives. US$400,000 has been allocated for that work. As a first step, FCTC capacity-building projects will be launched at the sub-national level. Additionally, ties with other stakeholders, such as the Development Partners Group (GruS), are being established to address the tobacco epidemic as a poverty and development issue.
In Honduras, over 40 development stakeholders, including Honduras’ Planning and Foreign Cooperation Unit and various UN agencies, gathered on 4 May to discuss opportunities to advance implementation of the FCTC. The key topic was identifying national and international resources to strengthen tobacco control measures. As a result of the meeting, the Ministry of Education committed strongly to include tobacco control within its future plans and UNWOMEN promised to address the tobacco epidemic in its work on gender equity and empowerment.
For more information, see FCA’s campaign, Action Now!