Data Collection on Leaf Production and Use in Tobacco Products  - Scott D. Ballin, 11/28/00 10:39AM

These are supplemental comments to those I made before the Commission at its public hearings. From what data has been collected we know that the tobacco companies have significantly decreased their purchases of US tobacco while significantly increasing their purchases and use of foreign tobacco. USDA estimates that close to 50% of the tobacco used in US cigarettes now comes from overseas. I believe that the Commission needs to recommend that new and enhanced data collection processes be put in place so that we know where tobacco is being grown, how much, and how and where that tobacco eventually finds its way into the market place. We need better data on the types of chemicals that are being used in the production of tobacco, whether the tobacco is reconstituted tobacco, and to consider that all tobacco products be labeled as to the amount of US leaf that is being used versus foreign leaf.  We also need to look at the labor conditions under which tobacco farmers around the world grow the tobacco. To date the information that I believe the public (growers, health groups, policy makers) has a right to have access to is being withheld by the companies. US growers need to be better tuned in to what the tobacco companies and leaf dealers have been doing overseas to enhance their profitability to support efforts to make important information available to the public.

Scott Ballin