“The World Health Organisation recommendations for reducing tobacco products pose a threat to the livelihood of hundreds and thousands of families, adding it will not prevent inhabitants from smoking” say tobacco growers from Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Turkey. Gathered at a regional forum on oriental tobacco, organised by the International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA) in Skopje on Friday, they agreed that by reducing tobacco production the number of smokers would not be modified, adding that tobacco growing didn’t damage the environment.

According to ITGA CEO Antonio Abrunhosa, tobacco farming was under a great threat and WHO’s recommendations to lessen tobacco production was not a smart move.

“The tobacco products use is in constant increase and thus the World Health Organisation wants to enforce restrictions and to reduce consumption and tobacco products as a result. We think it is not a smart move by the WHO because it won’t force smokers to quit smoking only because the production of tobacco in their country is dropped,” stated Abrunhosa.

The real danger, according to him, is that governments are urged to cut down cigarettes in their country, thus leaving hundreds and thousands of families on the street.

“The livelihood of growers of oriental tobacco in Macedonia and surrounding countries is put into question, because there is no replacement for this type of tobacco. We are not against the WHO ordinances, however there must be a different limit between the activities of its experts and tobacco products, because these two things should go hand in hand,” CEO Abrunhosa stressed.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Ljupco Dimovski reiterated that tobacco products would resume and that subsidies would be still paid for it.

“While this government structure is in power, tobacco growers can rest assured that tobacco products and subsidies will resume. Tobacco is an industrial and agriculture culture that is of great importance for Macedonia first and foremost of economic but also of social aspect. It employs a great number of farmers and the state has a substantial economic effect from tobacco farming. We remain firm with the position to resume producing oriental tobacco in Macedonia,” Dimovski noted.