LEXINGTON, Ky.-Burley tobacco growers in the United States sounded the alarm today on proposed regulations originating out of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) that could lead to a worldwide ban on blended, American-style cigarettes that contain burley tobacco.
The rules were recommended by a Working Group of the FCTC for implementation under Articles 9 and 10 of the treaty, which has 168 signatories. Canada, Norway and the EU are spearheading the effort to eliminate American-style cigarettes from the global marketplace.
“The FCTC’s Working Group on Articles 9 and 10 have declared all out war on growers of burley tobacco,” said Roger Quarles, the president of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association, an organization representing burley growers in several tobacco states in America. “If adopted and implemented by the signatories to the FCTC, these overly broad guidelines will decimate burley growers in the United States. This is an issue of fairness, it’s an issue of jobs, and it’s an issue of global health bureaucrats running afoul of common sense.”
Leaders of the Working Group, particularly the delegation from Canada, have attempted to confuse the media and policymakers into believing that its FCTC regulatory agenda is largely focused on ridding the marketplace of tobacco products that have candy or confectionary flavor. Banning these types of products is a laudable goal shared by tobacco growers, and is something that has been accomplished in the United States, France and Australia without imposing undue hardships on the growers of burley tobacco.
“There is absolutely no defensible health reason for the WHO to single out American-style cigarettes,” Quarles continued. “This is nothing more than a blatant attempt to confuse the public and policymakers into believing that American-style cigarettes are somehow more attractive than non-blended cigarettes, which is patently untrue. Some consumers prefer blended; some prefer flue-cured products. Both products taste like tobacco; neither leave a candy-flavored or any other characterizing taste with consumers.”
The proposed guidelines originating from the FCTC extend to all ingredients, and would for all intents and purposes, eliminate blended products from the marketplace. These proposed guidelines are now open to comment from the signatories to the FCTC.
“It is our hope that reason will prevail at the WHO,” Quarles said. “While we agree that steps should be taken to reduce youth smoking by eliminating candy-flavored tobacco products, it would be devastating to the livelihoods of tobacco farmers everywhere in the world if these misguided and overly broad regulations are adopted as part of the FCTC. Therefore we call on the US Administration, congress and other governments around the world to adopt a common sense approach and reject these irrational and potentially devastating guidelines.”