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December, 2012: Tanzania: Tobacco Farms Drive Major Deforestation in Tanzania

Tanzania: Tobacco Farms Drive Major Deforestation in Tanzania

By Kizito Makoye, 26 December 2012

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Kwihara — Cutting of trees for firewood to cure tobacco over the last few decades has been a major driver of deforestation and worsening extreme weather in Tanzania’s central western Tabora region, experts say.

But efforts to persuade tobacco farmers to adopt other crops is proving an uphill battle, not least because tobacco remains profitable and a major source of income in the region.

Emmanuel Mihambo, a peasant farmer from Usenge village in Tabora has been growing tobacco since the 1980s when his late father acquired a four hectare farm there. Over the years he has watched the forest that once surrounded his village gradually turn into barren ground.

“The situation has changed a lot. Imagine that valley separating Usenge and Ntalikwa village used to be covered by a dense forest. You could often spot wild animals such as antelopes. But all the forest is gone,” he lamented

Today firewood is harder to come by, and a local group calling itself IGEMBE NSABO is urging small-scale farmers to abandon tobacco and turn instead to alternative crops such as sunflower, cotton, groundnut and maize.

The group’s chairperson, Huruma Mwirombo, told AlertNet that the group has been educating farmers on the environmental fallout from tobacco farming, which has over the years decimated thousands of hectares of Miombo forests, the main source of rainfall in the region.

Farmers, however, are reluctant to shun tobacco, the mainstay of the local economy, he said.


Although researchers suggest that it would also be economically viable for a peasant farmer to grow other crops that suit the region’s conditions – including cotton – Mihambo still feels that tobacco is his best bet and the surest way to feed his family.

“I have not tried sunflower or cotton yet. I am not ready to take that risk,” he said.

Continuing deforestation, however, has contributed to the Tabora region experiencing increasingly acute water shortages in recent years as rainfall dwindles,

Mwirombo’s group estimates that over of 124,389 cubic metres of trees are being cut in Tabora region every year for tobacco curing.

He said the group’s research, conducted in several rural villages in Tabora, shows that most peasant farmers are oblivious to the long-term effects of growing tobacco, though they are willing to learn to manage their environment better.

One problem, the group says, is that the government continues to support tobacco growing as an important source of export income, tax revenue and income for farmers.

Victor Mwambalaswa, one local politician, was quoted in the local press as saying “nobody would welcome any efforts to sabotage tobacco farming.” He cited its pivotal role to the economy.

According to the country’s central bank, tobacco’s contribution to the national economy is enormous, with the country earning over $150 million a year from tobacco exports.

But tobacco’s future in the region is increasingly in question. A study titled Shifting Cultivation, Wood Use and Deforestation Attributes of Tobacco Farming, published by Sokoine University of Agriculture in March 2012, suggests that Tanzania loses over 61,000 hectares of forests every year due to tobacco growing.

The study says that the tobacco industry’s high demand for firewood cannot be sustained because of the increasing deforestation of Miombo

According to the study, 75 percent of households in Tabora districts were regular tobacco growers, cultivating an average of 1.3 hectares of tobacco per farmer each season and requiring 23 cubic metres of firewood to cure it.

The lead researcher, Mwita Mangora, argues that the region’s remaining forests will not be able to meet the growing demand for firewood to cure tobacco leaves.

Kizito Makoye is a journalist based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Read the original of this report on AlertNet Climate, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s daily news website on the human impacts of climate change.

Copyright © 2012 AlertNet. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media ( To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica aggregates and indexes content from over 130 African news organizations, plus more than 200 other sources, who are responsible for their own reporting and views. Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica.

Smoking smothers your genes, a new finding indicates

By Karl Gruber / ScienceNOW

Published: December 26. 2012 4:00AM PST

Cigarettes leave you with more than a smoky scent on your clothes and fingernails. A new study has found strong evidence that tobacco use can chemically modify and affect the activity of genes known to increase the risk of developing cancer. The finding may give researchers a new tool to assess cancer risk among people who smoke.

DNA isn’t destiny. Chemical compounds that affect the functioning of genes can bind to our genetic material, turning certain genes on or off. These so-called epigenetic modifications can influence a variety of traits, such as obesity and sexual preference. Scientists have even identified specific epigenetic patterns on the genes of people who smoke. None of the modified genes has a direct link to cancer, however, making it unclear whether these chemical alterations increase the risk of developing the disease.

In the new study, published in Human Molecular Genetics, researchers analyzed epigenetic signatures in blood cells from 374 individuals enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. EPIC, as it’s known, is a massive study aimed at linking diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors to the incidence of cancer and other chronic diseases. Half of the group consisted of people who went on to develop colon or breast cancer 5 to 7 years after first joining the study, whereas the other half remained healthy.

The team, led by James Flanagan, a human geneticist at Imperial College London, discovered a distinct “epigenetic footprint” in study subjects who were smokers. Compared with people who had never smoked, these individuals had fewer chemical tags known as methyl groups—a common type of epigenetic change—on 20 different regions of their DNA. When the researchers extended the analysis to a separate group of patients and mice that had been exposed to tobacco smoke, they narrowed down the epigenetic modifications to several sites located in four genes that have been weakly linked to cancer before. All of these changes should increase the activity of these genes, Flanagan says. It’s unclear why increasing the activity of the genes would cause cancer, he says, but individuals who don’t have cancer tend not to have these modifications.

The study is the first to establish a close link between epigenetic modifications on a cancer gene and the risk of developing the disease, says Robert Philibert, a behavioral geneticist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2011

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Plain pack news

“We take some relief that the (worst) case – mandatory plain packaging – wasn’t proposed,” stated a Morgan Stanley analyst.”

Sandbach MP backs campaign for plain cigarette packaging

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Crewe Chronicle-19 Dec 2012

More than 1,000 Cheshire East residents have also signed up to the Plain Packs Protect campaign, which demands the end of glitzy cigarette

TopNews United States

Bill seeks plain packs for tobacco in India

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Times of India-5 Dec 2012

Australia in a landmark move passed legislation on plain packaging that Plain packaging amplifies the effects of pictorial health warnings

Scunthorpe MP: Sell cigarettes in plain packaging

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ITV News-5 Dec 2012

has called on the Government to “follow the lead of their Australian counterparts” and force companies to sell cigarettes in plain packaging

WHO welcomes landmark decision from Australia’s High Court on tobacco plain packaging act

28/11/2012 20:16:00

Updated statement by WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan

The World Health Organization (WHO) strongly welcomes the landmark decision from Australia’s High Court to dismiss a legal challenge from the tobacco industry, and calls on the rest of the world to follow Australia’s tough stance on tobacco marketing.

Several major tobacco companies challenged Australia’s legislation to require cigarettes and other tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging. But the industry’s attempt to derail this effective tobacco control measure failed. As of December 2012, Australia will be the first country to sell cigarettes in drab, olive-green packaging.

With Australia’s victory, public health enters a brave new world of tobacco control. Plain packaging is a highly effective way to counter industry’s ruthless marketing tactics. It is also fully in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The lawsuits filed by Big Tobacco look like the death throes of a desperate industry. With so many countries lined up to ride on Australia’s coattails, what we hope to see is a domino effect for the good of public health.

The case is being watched closely by several other countries who are considering similar measures to help fight tobacco.

The evidence on the positive health impact of plain packaging compiled by Australia’s High Court will benefit other countries in their efforts to develop and implement strong tobacco control measures to protect the health of their people and to stand resolute against the advances of the tobacco industry.

Tobacco use is one of the most preventable public health threats. Tobacco products will eventually kill up to half of the people who use them – that means nearly six million people die each year. If governments do not take strong action to limit exposures to tobacco, by 2030 it could kill more than eight million people each year.

The WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control entered into force in 2005. Parties are obliged over time to take a number of steps to reduce demand and supply for tobacco products including: protecting people from exposure to tobacco smoke, counteracting illicit trade, banning advertising, promotion and sponsorship, banning sales to minors, putting large health warnings on packages of tobacco, increasing tobacco taxes and creating a national coordinating mechanism for tobacco control. More than 170 countries are Parties to the Convention.

For further information, please contact:

Glenn Thomas
Communications Officer
Telephone: +41 22 791 3983
Mobile: +41 79 509 0677

Plain cigarette packs would cut Plymouth’s 1362 child smokers

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Plain packaging on cigarettes could cut the number of children Australia became the first country to legislate the plain packaging and

Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Andrew Miller calls for plain cigarette

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Ellesmere Port Pioneer-5 Dec 2012

Health charities in the UK want the Government here to introduce similar legislation as research has shown plain packaging would reduce

Plain tobacco packaging ‘vital to discourage children’

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Daily Echo-12 Dec 2012

SOUTHAMPTON MP Alan Whitehead is calling for the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes and tobacco.

Pretty packets like silent salesmen to teens

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Blackpool Gazette-10 Dec 2012

“The introduction of plain, standardised packaging would mean a victory for our children’s health and a defeat for the tobacco industry

Govt urged to introduce plain cig packs

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Irish Health-4 Dec 2012

Ash Ireland has urged the Irish Government to take the lead of its Australian counterpart and introduce plain packaging on cigarettes

BJD MP to table Bill on plain pack of tobacco

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The Asian Age-26 Nov 2012

Plain packaging legislation seeks to remove extraneous colours, embossing and misleading elements on tobacco packs, thus eliminating

EU to outlaw cigarette packet branding by ‘the back door’

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under the EU’s single market rules to go further by copying an Australian law imposing plain packaging, which completely removes branding

Tobacco control plan criticized as ‘weak’

China Daily

Tobacco control plan criticized as 'weak'

Anti-tobacco campaigners have criticized the government’s 2012-15 tobacco control plan as a “weak and futile” attempt to curb the habit.

The plan was jointly issued on Friday by eight government agencies, one of which was the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, or China Tobacco Corp. China holds a State monopoly on the tobacco industry.

Other government agencies included the ministries of industry and information technology, health and finance.

Under the plan, for at least three years, cigarette packages will not have graphic warnings that depict the physical effects tobacco can have on the body.

“Countries and regions worldwide have been putting graphic labels on cigarette packs, and China is lagging far behind the rest of the world in this,” said Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the Think Tank Research Center for Health Development, a Beijing-based NGO committed to tobacco control, who described the plan as “weak and futile”.

The center released its own report on tobacco and smoking control in China on Tuesday, calling for awareness of the obstacles the anti-smoking lobby faces.

The graphic warnings show people who open a cigarette pack exactly the risks they will take, said Jiang Yuan, who heads the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s tobacco control office.

As of 2013, cigarette packages will have graphic labels in 63 countries and regions, covering more than 40 percent of the world’s population, according to the World Health Organization.

In Australia and Uruguay, graphic warnings take up at least 80 percent of cigarette packs.

By contrast, by 2015 China’s cigarette packets will only have labels with characters under the plan. Anti-smoking information, such as the phone numbers of hotlines to quit smoking, is likely to be printed on the packs.

To help curb smoking, tobacco product taxes and prices will rise.

At present, the tax rate for cigarettes is about 40 percent of the retail price, compared with the 65 to 70 percent world average, according to Wu.

Only Cambodia and Congo have a lower rate than China worldwide.

Currently, China has more than 300 million smokers, including 290 million men, and at least 1.2 million people die from smoking-related diseases each year on the mainland, official statistics indicate.

Because of lax regulations on smoking in public, about 740 million non-smokers are affected by secondhand smoke.

The plan will reduce the passive smoking rate to less than 60 percent by 2015, from the current 72.4 percent.

The tobacco tax continues to be a major source of income for the government, and the industry provides more than 20 million jobs, according to the plan.

The tobacco industry contributed 498 billion yuan ($79.8 billion) in taxes in 2010, accounting for approximately 6 percent of total government income that year, official statistics show.

“The tobacco industry plays a role in increasing government income and creating jobs,” said the plan.

More than 80 percent of the nation’s tobacco leaf production and over half of cigarette-making is located in underprivileged areas on the mainland, which rely heavily on the tobacco industry for socioeconomic development.

It will take some time to develop a substitute for tobacco industry, the plan said.

“We have to consider the realities while implementing tobacco control,” said Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist at the China CDC, and a volunteer in tobacco control campaigns.

Tobacco control policy in France: from war to compromise and collaboration

Download PDF : France Dubois TCPHEE 2012

World No Tobacco Day

World No Tobacco Day

31 May 2013

Every year, on 31 May, WHO and partners everywhere mark World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death globally and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide.

The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2013 is: COMPREHENSIVELY ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

A comprehensive ban of all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is required under the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) for all Parties to this treaty within five years of the entry into force of the Convention for that Party. Evidence shows that comprehensive advertising bans lead to reductions in the numbers of people starting and continuing smoking. Statistics show that banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce tobacco demand and thus a tobacco control “best buy”.

Most countries lack comprehensive bans

Despite the effectiveness of comprehensive bans, only 6% of the world’s population was fully protected from exposure to the tobacco industry advertising, promotion and sponsorship tactics in 2010 (WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2011).

To help reduce tobacco use, comprehensive advertising, promotion and sponsorship bans work to counteract:

  • the deceptive and misleading nature of tobacco marketing campaigns;
  • the unavoidable exposure of youth to tobacco marketing;
  • the failure of the tobacco industry to effectively self-regulate; and
  • the ineffectiveness of partial bans.

Meanwhile, as more and more countries move to fully meet their obligations under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), tobacco industry attempts to undermine the treaty become ever more aggressive, including those to weaken public health efforts to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. For example, where jurisdictions have banned advertising of tobacco products through point-of-sale displays – known as tobacco “powerwalls” – or banned the advertising and promotional features of tobacco packaging through standardized packaging, the tobacco industry has sued governments in national courts and through international trade mechanisms. On the other hand the tobacco industry uses sponsorship and especially corporate social responsibility tactics to trick public opinion into believing in their respectability and good intentions while they manoeuver to hijack the political and legislative process.


The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600 000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke. Unless we act, the epidemic will kill more than 8 million people every year by 2030. More than 80% of these preventable deaths will be among people living in low- and middle-income countries.

The ultimate goal of World No Tobacco Day is to contribute to protect present and future generations not only from these devastating health consequences, but also against the social, environmental and economic scourges of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

Specific objectives of the 2013 campaign are to:

  • spur countries to implement WHO FCTC Article 13 and its Guidelines to comprehensively ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship such that fewer people start and continue to use tobacco; and
  • drive local, national and international efforts to counteract tobacco industry efforts to undermine tobacco control, specifically industry efforts to stall or stop comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

The WHO Tobacco Tax Simulation Model

Download PDF : The WHO Tobacco Tax Simulation Model

China Publishes Anti-Smoking Plan, Won’t Have Pack Photos

By Bloomberg News – Dec 22, 2012 12:00 AM GMT+0800

China published a plan to reduce the world’s largest population of smokers as part of a 2005 treaty, without implementing recommendations such as warning labels that include photos of rotten teeth and diseased lungs.

China plans to cut the number of smokers to 25 percent of the population by 2015 from 28.1 percent in 2010, according to the plan published by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology yesterday, seven years after the country signed the treaty that recommends the graphic warning labels.

The government will “comprehensively” prohibit smoking in public places and ban ads, promotion and sponsorship by tobacco companies, according to the plan. There is no mention of tax rates in the plan.

China has more than 300 million smokers, including half the adult male population, and about 740 million people are exposed to second-hand smoke risks, the ministry said. The tobacco industry accounts for 20 million jobs and contributed 6 percent of fiscal revenues in 2010, the ministry said.

“The plan carries a heavy smell of cigarettes,” Wu Yiqun, a director at the Beijing-based ThinkTank Research Center for Health Development. “It’s a compromise result between the tobacco industry and the Health Ministry, and it seems the tobacco side has the upper hand.” The State Tobacco Monopoly Administration was involved in the plan’s preparation.

Wu, a former deputy director at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, singled out the lack of graphic photos as a weakness. Australia, Canada and most European Union members have introduced such warnings or have agreed to do so, according to the World Health Organization website.

‘Weak’ Efforts

“It means China’s tobacco control efforts will be weak compared to mainstream international practices,” Wu said. The lack of any plan to increase taxes on tobacco is another weakness, she said.

The WHO recommended in March that China should almost triple excise taxes on tobacco products to 70 percent from 26 percent, to dissuade young people from taking up the habit. Half of the country’s smokers spend 5 yuan (80 cents) or less for a packet of 20 cigarettes, the WHO said.

Smoking, which is linked to 1 million deaths a year in China, is endangering the labor force, Health Minister Chen Zhu said in April.

Using cigarettes as gifts or gestures of friendship is still a popular practice in the country, and many poor regions rely on the industry to generate jobs and fiscal revenue, the industry ministry said.

Increasing Consumption

Cigarette production and consumption in China both increased by 3 percent last year, according to data from Bloomberg Industries. China’s share of world cigarette consumption increased to 40 percent last year from 35 percent in 2006. Consumption in the rest of the world has declined steadily since 2000.

The brother of Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang should be removed from his post as a top official in China’s state-owned tobacco monopoly to avoid conflicts of interest, according to a report published by the Washington-based Brookings Institution in October. Li last month took the No.2 position in China’s new leadership and is now oversees public health.

China’s new tobacco plan was jointly prepared by the ministries of industry, health, finance and foreign affairs; and the general administrations of tobacco, customs, safety and industry and commerce.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Xin Zhou in Beijing at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Panckhurst at

Liverpool body parts exhibition shocks thousands into giving up smoking

Hannah Aubrey takes a look at a heart as a result of smoking to show young and old about the perils of smoking at the Bodies exhibition, Liverpool.

Hannah Aubrey takes a look at a heart as a result of smoking

“In fact, cigarettes are one of the few products sold legally that have the potential to harm and even kill a person over time if they are used as intended.

“Smokers hear these facts and figures numerous times, yet find it very difficult to quit their life- threatening habit.

“The exhibit at Bodies Revealed in Liverpool has been so effective in helping those who want to give up because smokers can see, first hand, what the dangerous tars in cigarette smoke do to their lungs.

“Seeing lungs that are black, misshapen and showing signs of internal damage has led thousands of former smokers to leave their cigarettes in a case which the exhibition has designed to collect them in.

“It has been quite inspirational watching visitors examine the blackened lungs and then immediately taking a packet of cigarettes out of their pockets and putting them into the glass case.”

The lungs at the exhibition are one of the show’s most popular attractions.

But the purpose of the exhibition is not just about enabling people to see the intricate inner workings of the body like never before – the bodies are frozen in time by an innovative preservation process, pioneered by Dr Glover, which uses liquid silicone rubber.

Project director of Bodies Revealed, Dan Thomas, said it was also about encouraging people to look after their “unique” bodies.

He said: “The exhibition is designed to promote healthier living choices, by demonstrating the effects that disease and unhealthy lifestyles have on the body.

“One of the most effective displays has been the sets of lungs which show the effects of smoking.

“The lungs have been popular with many visitors as they can see directly how certain lifestyle choices can make quite obvious and life-threatening changes to our bodies.

“The exhibition at Bodies Revealed demonstrates how healthy lungs can be damaged by smoking cigarettes.

“Seeing the differences between a healthy pair of lungs and a smoker’s lungs promotes understanding and offers fantastic body education.

“Unlike models or pictures that idealise the body through the eyes of an artist, the lungs at this exhibition will show them as they really exist.

“It is easy for someone to look past the cigarette pack images, but when they are sitting right next to a real pair of damaged lungs it is more difficult to ignore.

“By seeing the actual damaged lungs, along with the cigarette package imagery, some guests at Bodies have told us that they were persuaded to throw their cigarettes in the bin straight away.

“The display shows how poisonous chemicals in tobacco smoke such as nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar can damage healthy lungs.

“Hopefully, the lungs have inspired people of all ages to think positively about their own body and promote healthy living choices.”

The display, Bodies Revealed, has been criticised by some as being in poor taste because it uses real bodies.

But organisers say the display of more than 200 actual human bodies and specimens are “meticulously dissected and respectfully displayed”.

In earlier interviews, Dr Glover said that all the bodies used had been donated with the knowledge that they would be used for educational purposes.

Dr Glover added: “Bodies Revealed is all about education and is a demonstration of the complexity, intricacy and sophistication of our organs and how they work.

“We want Bodies Revealed to inspire people of all ages to think positively about their own body and promote healthy living choices.

“If you’ve struggled to explain to your children about the harmful effects of smoking, bring them here and let them see for themselves what terrible damage it does to the lungs.”

Liverpool’s public health chief Dr Paula Grey, director of Public Health Liverpool, commented on the exhibition and its help towards the battle against smoking.

She said: “While most people know that smoking causes ill health, actually seeing the damage caused to lungs makes it more real and helps motivate smokers to quit.”

For help to stop smoking, call: 0800 195 2131 or visit www.

Bodies Revealed has been showing at Liverpool ONE since September 1.

It closes on January 2. Doors are open seven days a week

Read more: Liverpool Echo


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