• Presentation

Tobacco Farmer Diversification: Implications for Tobacco Control


Beach, R. H., & Johnston, S. A. (2005, December). Tobacco Farmer Diversification: Implications for Tobacco Control. Presented at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.


In recent years, public health advocates have shown heightened interest in issues affecting tobacco farmers and tobacco-dependent communities. Even before the recent termination of the tobacco quota program, major changes had been taking place in the U.S. tobacco market, including increasing reliance on international trade, substantial reductions in tobacco marketing quotas, production cost increases, and rapid increases in direct contracting with tobacco manufacturers. Concern regarding the impact of these developments on tobacco farmers and their communities has been a key obstacle among federal, state, and local lawmakers to passage of more stringent tobacco control policies. If farmers can successfully diversify their incomes, becoming less tobacco-dependent, a major impediment to implementation of better tobacco control policies would be removed. In this study, we examine the impact of farm, household, and market characteristics on farmers' interest and success in diversification as well as the impacts on their attitudes towards tobacco control. We surveyed a panel of North Carolina tobacco farmers in 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2004 about tobacco production, as well as attitudes, knowledge and behaviors about on-farm diversification, off-farm employment, tobacco manufacturers, tobacco control, and other key issues. This unique longitudinal dataset covers a period of tremendous change in the U.S. tobacco market. Our research presents empirical evidence about tobacco farmers' and tobacco-dependent communities' abilities to adjust to structural changes taking place in the tobacco market and these adjustments' impacts on farmer opposition to tobacco control.