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This house believes that states should not subsidise the growing of tobacco
This house believes that states should not subsidise the growing of tobacco
A subsidy is financial assistance from a government. In the case of tobacco the subsidy paid to farmers and agribusinesses to supplement their income, manage the supply, and influence the cost and supply of the commodity. The subsidisation of industry and indeed the subsidisation of agriculture are commonplace throughout the world, however the subsidisation of tobacco growers raises a raft of issues given that smoking is something that most states try and discourage in their populations. Both the EU and the USA are big tobacco subsidisers, under the EU Central Agricultural Policy (CAP) the EU guarantees a certain price for any and all tobacco that farmers can grow. In 2010 the United States paid almost $200 million in subsidies to tobacco farmers1 while in the European Union in 2000 subsidies were worth£592 million 1. Tobacco growing is a global industry; there are 135,000 tobacco farmers in the EU, more than 170,000 in Brazil 2 and 850,000 in India3, and in all these countries many more people are dependent on the industry. Subsidies could also take the form of almost any type of financial assistance to tobacco farmers however.
This motion can be set universally which allows for discussion of third world growing of cash crops or narrowed to only include developed nations or to talk specifically about the EU subsidising tobacco growers.
|Points For||Points Against|
|Subsidising Tobacco encourages people to grow tobacco where they might otherwise grow food.||Argument Four: We have a moral duty to help people in rural areas.|
|Subsidising Tobacco is counter productive .||Argument Three: Subsidies can be used to encourage environmentally sustainable farming.|
|It is immoral for states to subsidise products that are harmful.||Argument One: Subsidies are essential for the development of industry.|
|Argument Two: Subsidies can be beneficial for developed industries.|
Remember to choose a winning argument!
Subsidising Tobacco encourages people to grow tobacco where they might otherwise grow food.
In many places in the world food is scarce; tobacco farming uses up land that could otherwise be used for food production. By subsidising tobacco farming states take away from their ability to provide food for their own citizens as well as their ability to export food to other areas.
Taking away subsidy money from tobacco would leave cash available to subsidise food production in these areas. In developing areas this would mean that there was much more food security, reducing the risk of famine and dependency on other nations.
Food prices are currently at an all-time high with food prices in February 2011 34% higher than in 2010 1 and an increase in the supply of food that would result from changing from producing tobacco to food will mean that this is kept under control, given that food is something that everyone needs this will benefit everyone, but it will especially benefit those who live in places where food is a scarce commodity
The money people get from tobacco farming can be used to buy food in from other areas. Money from tobacco sales can be used to provide infrastructure, health facilities and education1.
Tobacco production can also take place alongside food production, tobacco is a crop that can thrive in poorer soils and so can provide a useful income while not wasting land that is needed for food production.Improve this
Subsidising Tobacco is counter productive .
Governments spend a huge amount of money on helping people stop smoking; in the UK the government spends annually annually £83.9m on services to help people stop smoking and a further £61.8m on stop smoking medication 1. For the EU and states around the world to go out of their way to subsidise tobacco farming undermines these sorts of public health initiatives. Governments should be consistent in their subsidies and taxes rather than encouraging an industry with subsidies and then taking money away again with increased taxes.
Countries like the UK may choose to spend money on helping people stop smoking without any regard to the economies of tobacco producing countries if they wish. However tobacco producing countries do not owe anything to the UK and should not harm their own economies in order to help public health drives in countries that are richer than themselves.Improve this
It is immoral for states to subsidise products that are harmful.
It is nearly impossible to justify the state spending huge amounts of money on something that causes such large amounts of harm. About half of regular cigarette smokers will be eventually killed by their habit with 100,000 smokers dying from smoking related causes every year in the UK.1
By subsidising tobacco farmers the state makes it cheaper for its citizens to do a great deal of damage to themselves and others. Tobacco pricing has a large impact on tobacco consumption, in south Africa for example from 1992-99 a period in which the price doubled the number of packets sold declined from 1927million to 1400million,2 and so by lowering these prices states increases tobacco consumption and all the harms that come with it.
It also has the effect of sending a message that the state supports smoking, totally the wrong message to send to societyImprove this
The state has no place whatsoever in dictating lifestyle choices to its citizens. Citizens who chose to smoke are not ignorant of the risks; they choose to smoke in spite of them. The state does however have a place supporting its economy. Subsidies can help areas of the economy grow where they would otherwise falter, creating a huge number of jobs and possibly an industry that might be self sustaining in the future. In the USA, which subsidises it's tobacco producers, an estimated 2.7 million jobs are dependent on the tobacco industry1 there would be a great harms on the American economy if subsidies were not maintained. Given that tobacco farming is heavily concentrated takes place in a few areas in America, particularly around Virginia and Kentucky, it would be hard for the rest of the economy to 'pick up the slack' in these heavily dependent areas2.Improve this
Argument Four: We have a moral duty to help people in rural areas.
People generally have a 'take taketake' attitude towards the countryside. The countryside provides goods for everyone; we take our dogs for walks through it, drive our cars through it on a summers day and holiday in it. In almost all countries the countryside and farming is at the heart of culture and traditions with traditional festivals, folk music and dance and traditional food and drink having all originated in farming communities. The countryside also provides clean air and helps to maintain food security. In return farmers work longer than average days doing hard manual labour for less pay than the average person.
If farmers want to grow tobacco to try and help themselves economically we should do whatever we can to help them in that ambition.Improve this
There might be a case for having a moral obligation to farmers, if we were in some way forcing them to farm. However farmers choose to be farmers, often because they enjoy the way of life and like spending time outside. They are more than welcome to move to the city if they are unhappy with wages or living conditions.Improve this
Argument Three: Subsidies can be used to encourage environmentally sustainable farming.
In many areas, especially under the EU's CAP (Common Agricultural Policy)1, subsidies are used to promote sustainable use of farmland; simple measures like leaving an area around the outside of fields can promote biodiversity, protect water levels. Funds are made available for farmers to use modern, less environmentally damaging equipment. Moreover even if farmers in the EU choose not to take advantage of assistance offered to adapt their agricultural practices they "must respect environmental laws and look after their land properly if they wish to qualify for direct income payments."Improve this
For true sustainability governments should look at subsidising cash crops like rape seed oil which can be turned into fuel for cars or electricity. This would help countries become more fuel secure and more prepared for a future with scarce fossil fuels.Improve this
Argument One: Subsidies are essential for the development of industry.
Subsidies are essential in the growth of new industries. This is something that can be seen from the Japanese post war economic miracle to British arms manufacturing. A totally free market very rarely produces sustainable growth and therefore states should subsidise areas where they believe their country can be economically competitive1.
For countries, particularly developing nations, with the right climate tobacco growing can be a great industry to help support and grow. Tobacco is an unparalleled cash crop for the climates in which it is grown providing an income of 7,000-10,000 Euros per hectare2.
1Chang, Ha-Joon. 'Kicking Away The Ladder'. (2002)Improve this
Tobacco growing is not the only option when it comes to developing new industries. If it is so important that nations develop new industries there are a host of other, less harmful, cash crops as well as the option of sustenance agriculture or industry.Improve this
Argument Two: Subsidies can be beneficial for developed industries.
In areas with an already developed tobacco industry subsidies can also be invaluable, in many areas including the EU and the USA subsidies take the form of guaranteed minimum prices for products, giving peace of mind and stability to farmers1. This means that farmers are guaranteed a minimum income in an industry where prices often fluctuate wildly resulting in periods where the farmer makes a good profit on what he grows and others when there is overproduction resulting in losses on the crops grown.
They can also take the form of rural development schemes rejuvenating often deprived rural areas for the better by providing training, modern equipment and financial assistance for new and retiring farmers1. Both these measures keep farms viable and farmers in employment rather than letting them go bankrupt and a burden on welfare. These are measures that are as needed for tobacco farmers as any other farmer.Improve this
Minimum pricing measures are introduced primarily to ensure states do not have to rely too much on trade with outside, so that if there were some reason why they had to be self-sufficient they could. Tobacco is in no way as important a product to have a secure supply of as foodstuffs. Developed nations should introduce minimum pricing on food as a much higher priority than tobacco.Improve this
Action on Smoking and Health . Tobacco economics. July 2011. (accessed August 17, 2011).
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). ash.org.uk. July 2011. (accessed August 17, 2011).
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). Phasing out European Union Tobacco subsidies, July 2001. (accessed August 19, 2011)
Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations. Issues in the Global Tobacco Economy, Rome, 2003, (accessed August 19, 2011).
International Tobacco Growers Association. About tobacco. (accessed August 17, 2011).
International Tobacco Growers Organisation. Why do people grow tobacco? (accessed August 17, 2011).
Jr, H. Frederick Gale, Linda Foreman, and Thomas Capehart. "Tobacco and the Economy." December 2000. (accessed August 17, 2011).
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