Friday, 7 January 2011

Anti-smoker interviews international representative of tobacco growers, video

Al-Jazeera presents this important interview:

They discuss the exclusion of the tobacco growers from COP-4: the recent conference of parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Patrick Reynolds, grandson of R.J. Reynolds, declares that tobacco growers were excluded because they represent tobacco interests and they want to distract attention from the public health issues around smoking. Antonio Abrunhosa stresses that he represents growers rather than manufacturers. He points out that since the people at the Framework Convention don't understand what their International Tobacco Growers' Association is about, they should have been invited to the conference in Uruguay, and not excluded. Mr Reynolds's continued accusations that Mr Abrunhosa is funded by the tobacco industry and references to 'blood money' are rather tedious. He insists that the business of COP-4 was about public health, not the fortunes of a few small farmers, and also that nobody was planning to stop tobacco from being grown (although I think everyone is aware that the vital ingredients were to be banned, meaning that the crops could be grown but the market for them would plummet). He smiles benevolently and suggests the farmers grow corn or wheat instead of tobacco.

Riz Khan chairs this discussion without the hostility normally directed at (perceived) tobacco industry interests, and he gives Mr Abrunhosa time to expand on his organisation's concerns and hopes for the future. Mr Abrunhosa refers to the support given by many African heads of government to ITGA, against the articles brought forward to the Uruguay conference. On alternatives to tobacco as a crop, Mr Abrunhosa again refers to being excluded from COP-4. Health officials had been meant to assist in finding viable alternatives to tobacco growing, but since FCTC refuses to take information from the growers no progress has been made.

Some questions addressed to the show by email are also addressed by both sides – when the parties stop talking over each other (top prize for being ill-mannered goes to Mr Reynolds).

Enjoy the interview, and let's insist that tobacco growers are allowed more media opportunities.

1 comment:

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