Eight Reasons NOT to Support Tobacco Companies
- They’re trying to suck money from communities of color.
In addition to youth, cigarette companies target much of their advertising at people of color. There are far more tobacco billboards in poorer black and Hispanic communities than in middle-class white communities. Is it any wonder that African Americans die from lung cancer at a rate 40 to 50 percent higher than whites?
- They’re ripping off the Third World.
Smoking is declining in the US. But things are very different in Africa, Asia, and South America. The big US and British tobacco companies are busy making up for lost sales in the richer countries by hooking people in the poorer countries where the health consequences of smoking are less known. As more and more people in the Third World become addicted to tobacco, scarce national resources are squandered on the import of this deadly product.
- Growing tobacco is destructive to the environment.
In many poor countries where US tobacco companies have convinced farmers to grow tobacco, millions of trees have been cut down to clear the way for tobacco fields. On average, a tree is cut down for every 300 cigarettes made. In the Philippines, more than 20,000 acres of tropical forest are cut down every year to grow tobacco. Trees are also destroyed so that their wood can be burned to dry the green tobacco leaves. In fact, 1 in every 25 trees cut down in the world is used to dry tobacco leaves. When forests are lost, biodiversity is undermined and valuable soils are washed away. Tobacco is also unusually harsh on the soil, draining more nutrients than most crops. Moreover, tobacco cannot be grown in the same soil year after year because of the build-up of parasites. Thus, a new cycle of environmental destruction begins every couple of years.
- Tobacco cropland could be used to grow food.
Worldwide, about 6 million hectares of farmland are devoted to growing tobacco. If this same land were used to grow food crops, it could feed up to 20 million people!
- Tobacco farmworkers are at risk.
Growing tobacco requires the use of dangerous fertilizers, insecticides, and weedkillers. Yet farmers in the poor countries where much of tobacco is grown are often not trained or equipped to apply them safely. Some chemicals in common use are so hazardous that they are banned in the countries that manufacture them!
- They’re exploiting women.
In a cruel irony, the cigarette companies are cashing in on the changing roles of women in society. Through their advertising, they try to convince young girls and women that smoking equals equality, freedom, and liberation. And it is working! Smoking rates among young women are now roughly equivalent to those of young men. Many believe that smoking can help them stay thin and look attractive.
- Their advertising is manipulative and deceitful.
They show smokers as athletic, healthy, smooth skinned people with dazzling white smiles. What a pack of lies! Let’s face it. The tobacco companies are just not good corporate citizens. Their products kill, but they try to convince people—especially kids—that smoking is a cool thing to do. What is so cool about being a pawn of tobacco company manipulation?
- You would rather be a multimillionaire.
It’s true! If you take the money that you would have spent on cigarettes and, instead, put that money in the bank, then by the time you are 65 you will have nearly $2 million waiting for you to spend. This calculation is based on putting the purchase price of a pack-a-day into a 7% interest savings account. So which would you rather have: a couple million dollars or lung cancer?
Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights
American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation
Last updated on: Jun 01, 2005