Grow food, not tobacco

| May 15, 2023

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A record 349 million people are facing acute food insecurity. Meanwhile, tobacco is grown in over 124 countries, taking up 3.2 million hectares of fertile land that could be used to grow food, address food security and nutrition challenges and help feed families.

But growing tobacco is not only a threat to food security and nutrition. Tobacco farmers are exposed to a number of health risks (including nicotine poisoning), the environment suffers greatly, and farmers earn very little when compared to the amount of labour required to grow the crop.

In most countries, farmers have had trouble shifting away from tobacco because of the incentives provided by the tobacco companies, such as seeds, fertilizers, construction of barns or access to finance or credits. Despite farmers earning little from tobacco overall, it is considered a stable crop because of an assured market that generates small windfalls of cash, which makes moving away from tobacco challenging from a farmer’s perspective.

The World Health Organization will celebrate World No Tobacco Day on 31 May. The theme is “Grow Food, Not Tobacco”.

This year’s campaign will aim to mobilize governments to end subsidies and support viable markets for alternative food crops, where farmers will earn more than what they earn from tobacco. It will also aim to expose the tobacco industry’s efforts to interfere with attempts to substitute tobacco growing with sustainable crops, thereby contributing to the global food crisis.

Support the campaign by raising awareness of the harms of tobacco growing and the potential to improve food security and nutrition by shifting to alternative crops.

Read an FAQ and key messages here:—grow-food–not-tobacco

Find farmer testimonials and campaign materials here:

The farmer testimonials are videos which could be played on air.