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New USDA Report Provides More Evidence Of U.S. Tobacco Companies’ Move Overseas

December 23, 1999

Washington, DC - A new U.S. Department of Agriculture report released today further documents U.S. cigarette companies’ move of their manufacturing and growing operations abroad, supporting the findings of a study recently released by the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The study by the three public health organizations, False Friends: The U.S. Cigarette Companies’ Betrayal of American Tobacco Farmers, concluded that U.S. cigarette companies’ move abroad and aggressive support of foreign growers, and not the gradual smoking declines in the United States, were the primary cause of the crisis facing American tobacco farmers. The study was released on December 14. The Tobacco Yearbook report released today by the USDA provides this additional evidence: From January to September 1999, U.S. cigarette exports declined 26 percent compared to the same period in 1998. Altogether, calendar year 1999 cigarette exports are likely to be about 150 billion pieces, a decline of about 38 percent since 1996 (when shipments reached a record 243 billion pieces). The report states, “Since 1996, increased overseas production by U.S. manufacturers has reduced U.S. exports.” U.S. tobacco leaf production for 1999 is expected to be 14 percent less than a year earlier. From January to September 1999, exports of flue-cured and burley tobacco fell 14 percent and 9 percent respectively, compared to a year ago. In contrast, production of flue-cured tobacco in Brazil, the world’s largest tobacco exporter, is expected to increase 28 percent in 1999. The report states, “Large world supplies, lower priced leaf from competitor countries, stagnant or declining cigarette consumption in major importing countries, and reduced leaf use per cigarette all constrain leaf exports.” The full USDA Tobacco Yearbook can be found on the Internet.