Tobacco continues to kill seven million individuals every year, with a relentless push by the tobacco industry to sell almost six trillion cigarettes per year. Despite these dire figures, there have been steady declines in consumption due to important advances in tobacco control measures (e.g. taxation, public smoking bans, warning labels on tobacco packaging) in countries around the world.
These advances are in part a result of a vigorous global movement of advocates, scientists, public health practitioners and governments, and the corresponding high-profile adoption of one of the first international public health treaties to be adopted under the auspices of the World Health Organization, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. This treaty compels member states to implement comprehensive tobacco control measures, including, for tobacco-producing countries, support for alternatives to tobacco growing and production. This latter provision has been incredibly difficult to implement and the economic and agricultural sectors of government are often less than enthusiastic to pursue this objective. However, drawing from over 100 in-depth interviews with policy makers in five tobacco producing countries, we find common discourses, institutional factors and ideas about the role of government in pursuing alternatives to tobacco.
This seminar will walk through this complex landscape of discourses and ideas in order to articulate the challenges facing attempts to control tobacco supply. The seminar will situate tobacco supply, and the policy environment that fosters it, amidst historical (colonial) legacies of tobacco production, the entrenchment of neoliberal and capitalist paradigms of economic development and growth and the ways that these two dynamics have influenced how the relationship between state, market and society is imagined by government officials in the economic and agricultural sector.
Raphael Lencucha is an Associate Professor at McGill University in Montreal Canada. He has worked on the topic of governance for health for the past 13 years, with an emphasis on tobacco governance. The thrust of his research has been to understand how intersectoral issues impact the pursuit of health policy. This work has focused on the intersection of tobacco control and economic policy, including issues of policy space for tobacco control in relation to trade law. Since 2012 he has been working with colleagues to investigate the economic livelihoods of tobacco farmers and the often-tenuous pursuit of alternatives to tobacco production in Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Indonesia and now Mozambique and Zimbabwe. His work is supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada) among others.