The Colonizing of the Developing World Continues: Have another Cigarette

Posted by in Broadsides

plain.gifThe IPS reports today that one of the worst threats to people living in poverty around the world – mainly in the “developing world” – is not HIV or famine, but preventable, non-communicable diseases. People dying from tobacco-induced cancer in the majority world reminds me of the kind of corporate colonialism that we’re seeing in the cultural industries. For example, as Playboy perceived an exhaustable market in “the West” it set its sights on the pure and vulnerable global south, readying the global company’s operations for India, where peddling soft-porn should “create a demand.” And as citizens in “the West” get wise to the poisons being pushed through the free market and into our bodies, demand for things like cigarettes has gone down, hitting some six and nine figure companies at their swollen profit margins. Not to worry though: not only are the poor and down-trodden in the West likely to salve the pain and struggle of daily existence with the products, but there’s literally millions waiting like sitting ducks, all over the southern and eastern regions of the planet.

As Stephen Leahy writes:

Tobacco-related deaths have hit five million a year and are expected to double to 10 million a year by 2030, with most fatalities in developing countries, the World Lung Foundation reported last week. In comparison, HIV/AIDS kills two million people and TB is responsible for about three million deaths a year, and is either declining or stable in most countries.Children’s exposure to tobacco smoke is “unbelievable” in the Middle East, India, China and elsewhere in the world, said Daar. Smoking is injuring young lungs, causing cancers, and polluting the environment, among a multitude of other evils, he said.

Rapidly losing customers in rich countries due to higher taxes and public health campaigns about the negative impacts of smoking, cigarette companies have focused their considerable advertising power on the developing world, which can ill afford the cost of buying a highly addictive product and the huge burden smoking imposes on already strained health systems.

This is starting to remind me of NestlĂ© peddling Pablum in Africa, as part of a larger, corporate-aid project to get mothers to stop breastfeeding so the Swiss mega-corporation could move product on that continent as sales declined in Europe and North America – do at least in part to education and activist campaigns informing families of the health risks associated with breastmilk replacements. Will the global grab-bag of profit-seeking stop? Sometimes it takes a blockade across the tracks to stop a speeding locomotive…

For news from the rest of the planet and from the perspective of the marginalized and the people on the ground, visit the IPS website.