8. From Farmer to Consumer

The statistics here are from The Tobacco Atlas, which is maintained by the WHO.

You might think that a lot of the data here is dated. However, it is probably the best available on an international comparative basis – after all, it is maintained by the WHO.

Let’s start with the farmer.

Click on Map

Or, to show it more specific:

Click on chart

So the real culprits are China and Brazil.

These are the big producers of tobacco leaves.

We can also word this as: these are the countries where the farmers (and the country economy) will suffer the most should the demand for tobacco leaf decrease, or when the price decrease.

Malawi is especially notable here because tobacco production is about 60% of its GNP. Should anything happen to this production the whole country is in more likely to suffer than any other country in the world.

Now let’s see how this substance is being moved around the world – who is poisoning whose population. Here we are more interested in the importing and exporting of cigarettes – i.e. not just the leaves.

In the text the interesting statements are:

“Again, the USA is the largest exporter of manufactured cigarettes, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the world total.”

It also imports only 15 000 tons while it export s 149 000 tons.

“China is quietly emerging as a significant cigarette exporter, increasing from virtually no exports in 1980 to over 20 billion cigarettes exported in 2001, worth about US$320 million.” This is, of course, miniscule compared to the USA.”

The pattern is clear: USA imports the leafs from third world economies and then exports these to developed economies. In many cases they export to production facilities in the developed countries.

BAT (Britain) is not a player in this game. They do not import or export significant amounts. They tend to produce the cigarettes they sell in the countries they sell them to.

Keep your eye on china, because I will return to this in later chapters. What is really noteworthy is that china produces the most tobacco in the world, but they smoke most of it themselves.

So lets look at who makes the cigarettes:

Click to Enlarge

Note the little insert at the bottom that explains where the income from cigarettes go (this presumably apply to the US because it shows state-tax).

You might want to compare this to where the smokers are.

It is not a difficult sum to work out that if you are producing in USA and your smokers (USA and developed countries) are smoking less, then:

1. you would like to get into the developing world – they smoke less per capita but are increasingly smoking more, and,

2. you would like to get into China. They smoke a lot, but mostly just the stuff that they produce themselves.

Remember that you have all those farmers that you need to keep of the unemployment list.


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