Nearly 95% of the proposals contained in the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have already been incorporated in Brazilian law, according to Brazil’s Ministry of Health.
Health Minister, Humberto Costa, said that this is the main argument that will be presented to the Senate at the meeting that has already been solicited by Senator Fernando Bezerra, reporter of the Senate bill dealing with the question.
The most important steps included in the Convention to reduce tobacco consumption have to do with measures related to the advertising of tobacco products, sponsorship, and the increase of cigarette taxes.
In Brazil, cigarette advertising is already regulated by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa, Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária).
The law already determines that the advertising of tobacco products on radio and television channels is only permitted between the hours of 9 P.M. and 6 A.M.
But what most concerns tobacco industries and farmers is the gradual substitution of tobacco by other products. This is the opinion expressed by the executive secretary of the Sectorial Chamber of the Tobacco Production Chain, Francisco Signor.
“The Framework Convention operates in a systematic manner, beginning with campaigns that reduce tobacco consumpition, but it is obvious that if consumption is reduced by the end of the period, we may be sure that tobacco cultivation will be ended,” he affirms.
In his effort to calm farmers, Minister Costa recalls that the Framework Convention does not call for the elimination of tobacco planting, nor does it envision the end of government subsidies to tobacco planters,” the Minister affirms.
According to Costa, the measures already adopted in the international sphere will reduce tobacco consumption, beginning in 2010.
In Brazil, according to the 2004 Brazilian Tobacco Yearbook, 130 billion cigarette units were sold in 2003, 10% less than the 142 million sold in 2002.
In the Minister’s opinion, the gradual substitution of tobacco plants is one of the alternatives the country needs to consider prior to reducing the market for tobacco farmers.
“It doesn’t mean that we will eliminate or erradicate tobacco farming; what we want to do is to consider how these people will get along, once their market vanishes.”
Translator: David Silberstein