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close this bookFact sheet No 118: The Tobacco Epidemic: A Global Public Health Emergency Tobacco Use - May 1996 (WHO, 1996, 6 p.)
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View the documentThe Tobacco Epidemic: A Global Public Health Emergency Tobacco Use
View the documentSmoking Prevalence
View the documentHealth Effects
View the documentTobacco Production and Trade
View the documentEconomics of Tobacco
View the documentTobacco Control Measures

Economics of Tobacco

· Although tobacco is grown in over 100 countries, tobacco leaf and manufactured tobacco exports account for more than 8% of export earnings in just two countries, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Tobacco accounts for 64% of all export earnings in Malawi and 23% in Zimbabwe. However, tobacco represents a much smaller proportion of export earnings in all other countries.

· All countries that are devoting more than one percent of their total import expenses to purchasing tobacco are either developing countries or countries of Central and Eastern Europe. In these countries, expenditures on tobacco imports are relatively large, and are a significant cost to economic development.

· Although developed countries, particularly the United States earn the most money from tobacco exports, these earnings are less than one per cent of all their export earnings.

· High economic dependency on tobacco exports may make it more challenging to implement comprehensive tobacco control policies in countries such as Malawi and Zimbabwe. However, in such countries, tobacco control strategies would benefit from including measures to encourage appropriate economic adjustment as the global demand for tobacco slowly declines.