The Political Economy of Tobacco Production and Control in Mozambique and Zimbabwe
Tobacco use remains the single most important cause of preventable morbidity and premature mortality worldwide. While 100 million people died from tobacco use in the 20th century, an estimated 1 billion people will die from tobacco use in the 21st century without effective policy interventions (1,2). Importantly, 80% of these deaths will occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) by 2030 (3). Tobacco use, in particular, is rising rapidly in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) (2). Tobacco control efforts worldwide are guided largely by the policy interventions elucidated in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), an international treaty that currently has 181 parties (www.who.int/fctc/en/). Although most of these interventions aim to reduce consumption through demand reduction measures (e.g. tobacco taxation, graphic warning labels, marketing restrictions, etc.), the treaty also identifies the importance of supply-side reduction (i.e. reducing tobacco production and availability). It seeks to do this, in part, by compelling FCTC parties to find sustainable alternative livelihoods for smallholder tobacco farmers (Article 17). Moreover, the livelihood argument for tobacco farming (i.e. that it is essential for the economic development of tobacco-growing countries and the financial security of millions of smallholder tobacco farmers) is routinely invoked by the tobacco industry and used to gain access to, and influence, policy makers in key economic ministries in many LMICs (2–4). There is little evidence on how and why farmers gain or lose from tobacco growing. However, the crude narrative of prosperity is proving successful in preventing implementation of both demand- and supply-side tobacco control measures in most tobacco producing countries (5,7,8).
This project will expand our ongoing research that investigates how the political economy of tobacco supply affects tobacco control efforts in SSA (Kenya, Zambia, and Malawi) and Indonesia, and empirically examines the economic livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Importantly we are also beginning to examine the mechanisms that perpetuate tobacco production and the policy and market levers that can create a shift to alternatives. This study extends our research to two of the largest tobacco-producing SSA countries, both of which face increasing domestic tobacco use amidst challenges to tobacco control interventions: Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Following the same two lines of inquiry as our ongoing research (described under Background and Rationale), this project will answer three overarching questions:
- What are the political and economic conditions that lead to policies in support of tobacco production and inhibit policies that support alternatives to tobacco growing (supply-side)?
- How do these policy measures affect domestic tobacco control measures (demand-side)?
- What are the actual economic livelihoods of smallholder tobacco farmers?