New Study exposes how CTC lures local farmers into growing tobacco

By Kaumadi Punsaradevi

The Ceylon Tobacco Company was luring local farmers into cultivating tobacco by providing material and loan facilities and functioning as a direct buyer of their produce, a new research conducted by the Presidential Task Force on Drug Prevention (PTFDP) and the Centre for Combating Tobacco (CCT) at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, has revealed.

The research, conducted on the tobacco cultivation in Sri Lanka and its social impact, was released last Tuesday in Colombo by the Directors of the PTFDP and CCT Dr. Samantha Kithalawaarachchi and Dr. Mahesh Rajasuriya respectively.

The report states that the tobacco company tries to attract small scale cultivators through social welfare projects while its close relationships with politicians in the government such as the ministers of agriculture are being exploited to sustain the tobacco business.

The report stresses that such interventions by the tobacco company has to be stopped if the government’s goal of ending tobacco cultivation by 2020 is to be achieved.

Nevertheless, according to the report there has been a significant decrease in the number of tobacco cultivators in Sri Lanka owing to the announcement of an imminent tobacco ban by the government. Researchers think this is proof that nearly all tobacco cultivators, kiln owners and labourers have vocational options. Hence, the research team has called for stopping the use of the term "tobacco farmers".

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