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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Golden Leaf, Barren Harvest: The Costs of Tobacco Farming


While a few large-scale tobacco growers have prospered, the vast majority of tobacco growers in the Global South barely eke out a living toiling for the companies. Many tobacco farmers are now stuck producing a crop that is labor and input intensive and brings with it a host of health and environmental dangers. Meanwhile, the cigarette companies continue to downplay or ignore the many serious economic and environmental costs associated with tobacco. Recent research conducted by the World Bank has shown that, contrary to tobacco industry claims, global tobacco control efforts are not a threat to developing countries or tobacco farmers. As this report shows, even with global demand for tobacco leaf rising, the inescapable problems with tobacco farming make it a losing investment for most countries and farmers.

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