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Worldwide impacts

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  • Just four manufacturers dominate the global tobacco market (discounting the Chinese state monopoly).
  • Together these companies make more money than the combined revenues of more than 20 developing nations every year.
  • In many developing nations, a higher proportion of personal disposable income is spent on tobacco products than on food.
  • If Bangladesh redirected its tobacco expenditure to food, it could feed its 10.5 million malnourished.

Tobacco consumption has fallen considerably in developed nations over the past twenty years. Smoking in developed nations now accounts for 29% of world tobacco consumption compared to 34% in 1998.

By contrast, throughout developing nations, tobacco consumption increased from 66% to 71% over the same period.

Large multinational tobacco companies, based in Britain and America are largely responsible for the spread of smoking to developing nations.

Cigarette advertising is not banned in these countries and offers a desirable western lifestyle through smoking. There is little regulation in place to raise awareness of the dangers posed by smoking, or to restrict the sale and consumption of tobacco products.

The production of tobacco contributes to sustained poverty in many countries.


The tobacco companies pay very low prices to local farmers for their crops yet charge inflated prices for raw materials such as seed and pesticides. The tobacco companies are powerful organisations and the governments of developing nations have little option but to accept exploitative terms of trade rather than lose income they desperately need.

The 'Framework Convention on Tobacco Control' came into effect in 2005. It is the first ever global health treaty and allows countries to enact comprehensive tobacco control legislation and take on the tobacco industry.

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