§ Mr. Llew Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the Overseas Development Administration's policy towards the sponsoring of agricultural development schemes aimed at enhancing the growing of tobacco crops.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Tobacco is an important crop and a source of export earnings in some developing countries. There is, however, increasing evidence that the health risks associated with tobacco consumption will affect developing countries severely, especially by placing increasing burdens on their health budgets, which in most cases are inadequate to cope.
In these circumstances, it has been Her Majesty's Government's policy since early 1991 that the overseas aid programme should not be used for any purpose which identifiably supports the tobacco sector. Accordingly, no new such bilateral commitments have been undertaken since then. We advocate that multilateral agencies to which we contribute should pursue a similar policy. In addition, we shall continue to help developing countries to reduce their tobacco consumption, and maintain our assistance to farmers dependent on tobacco crops to diversify into alternative activities. The same policy applies to our assistance in eastern Europe and the states of the former Soviet Union.