What role does gender play when it comes to the consumption and control of tobacco? How is gender treated in both the tobacco industry and those who oppose its production and consumption?
The article “Tobacco control as a human right and development goal in Kenya” precisely deals with these questions. In it, the authors relate how most of the work involved in the cultivation of tobacco is done by women and children, who as a result are more susceptible to pesticide poisoning and to contracting the Green Tobacco Sickness.
The text additionally focuses on the fact that women’s image is increasingly being exploited for the purposes of advertising campaigns, whilst women themselves have also become a new consumer group targeted by the tobacco industry. In this sense, the article reveals the tobacco industry’s unscrupulousness in exploiting a socially-disadvantaged group in order to generate demand for their products. The primary objective here is to mask the reality behind a utopic vision of cigarettes as a symbol of freedom, independence and emancipation.
Discussions around the topic of effective tobacco control should not consider discrimination and human rights as issues merely peripheral to the problem. On the contrary, these should be at the basis of such discussions. The point is that tobacco control should be apprehended as part of human rights and development initiatives. Recognising the interconnectedness of various social issues- such as the treatment of women in relation to other marginal groups or public health issues- is an important step towards the development of sustainable concepts.
For further reading see: “Tobacco control as a human right and development goal in Kenya” in African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development.