Farmer's Voice

ITGA’s CEO on 2017 global perspective

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the most powerful country in the world would always be an event of world dimension. Given the personality of Mr. Trump, it has become a much bigger event with decisive, even if unpredictable, consequences.

Some of those consequences are more unpredictable than others. Among the known unknowns, as the other Donald, Rumsfeld, would say, one must include the policy towards tobacco.

Not counting on the Vice President's position, the new President' views on excessive regulation are sufficient to allow for some predictions on what may come.

The main one is about the FDA's role.

The Federal Drug Administration, under President Obama, was given the power to regulate all things related with tobacco.

It is doubtful that much of the regulation may be sent back, even if it might be sensible to allow for a little more freedom of choice among smokers and a little more respect for their minority rights.

What is quite probable is that some of the FDA powers may be reduced.

For tobacco growers, the most important decision is the regulation of Heat-not burn tobacco products, the only new generation products which have tobacco inside.

It is not foreseeable a political environment in which smokers might regain any of their lost freedom to use traditional cigarettes.

Three of the main four manufacturers of tobacco products have already one or more products in that category and their future will affect tobacco growers in a long term.

The anti-tobacco industry demonised the e-cigarettes first and the Heat-not burn devices after, for the simple reason that they are not their products and they might strengthen the tobacco industry.

Going back to the unknowns, nobody is completely sure about the health impact of vapors or heat not burn devices.

But everybody, with the exception of a few shameless employees of the anti-tobacco industry, knows that these products are much less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

Regulation should and must recognize this fact.

If the FDA under Mr. Trump, decides to accept this sensible view it may be a game changer for regulators around the world, as regulation will be more based on scientific evidence and less on the life style needs of the employees of the anti- tobacco industry and the interests of the pharmaceutical industry.

A more obscure unknown is the impact of Mr. Trump on the future of the World Health Organization. One of the great scandals of the United Nations system is the way in which a part of that United Nations Agency, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has used hundreds of millions of taxes payer's dollars, without any democratic control, for the sake of a small group of NGO's, their members and their corporate friends. It is expectable and desirable that the Trump Presidency requests a more detailed account about where that money went and what for.