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Views on trying to change the tobacco industry: health justice and marginalisation of tobacco companies
  1. Martin Otañez
  1. Correspondence to Dr Martin Otañez, Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado at Denver, Campus Box 103, PO Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364, USA; marty.otanez{at}

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During a film-making project in Malawi in March 2003, I spent the day with a Philip Morris executive visiting tobacco industry-funded social responsibility projects in Malawi.1 Listening to the executive talk to tobacco farmers about the benefits of participation in tree-planting and water-well construction projects showed me the human face of the global tobacco industry. It provided me with an understanding of tobacco companies’ efforts to use sustainable development schemes to keep Malawi economically dependent on tobacco farming, while making it unpopular and difficult for Malawians concerned with health and human rights to oppose an industry that doles out money for development.

On the return trip from villages to Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city, I realised that my encounter with the executive had reinforced my view that tobacco industry activities to promote farmer welfare and sustainable agriculture do have some direct impact on farmers’ livelihoods, such …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.