Health Impacts of Tobacco Cultivation in Bangladesh

Research on the links between tobacco farming and health problems among men, women, and children in Bangladesh will examine the health and socio-economic impact of tobacco cultivation.

To date, the health hazards of growing tobacco have not been documented or well researched, particularly in low-and middle-income countries with high rates of tobacco cultivation. Policy Research for Development Alternatives (UBINIG), based in the Bengali capital of Dhaka, has been the only source of information on health hazards in Bangladesh. Earlier IDRC-sponsored research (2006-2011) focused on farmers' strategies for shifting out of tobacco cultivation in Bangladesh. This research shed light on various health problems suffered by families that grow tobacco. However, these impacts were self-reported by farmers and not subject to a rigorous epidemiological study.

This current project aims to address that gap by undertaking an epidemiological study on the specific health hazards to be found among men, women, and children in tobacco-growing areas.

The research is deemed critical since Bangladesh's anti-tobacco law, based on the United Nations' Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, does not deal with protection against the illnesses and health hazards related to tobacco farming. The study intends to shed light on those health hazards, share the research results with relevant stakeholders, and provide data to counter the tobacco companies' claims about the advantages of tobacco farming - an argument they use to convince policymakers to delay tobacco control measures that would curb demand.

The research will consist of a two-year longitudinal study comparing a sample of individuals working in tobacco and non-tobacco growing areas. The Faculty of Public Health, Hanoi Medical University in Vietnam will support UBINIG in carrying out the epidemiological study.

Expected outcomes include establishing a scientific link between tobacco cultivation and health problems among farmers, compared with other agricultural crops. The research will also describe the capacity of Bangladesh's existing healthcare system and health personnel to deal with problems linked to tobacco farming. It is anticipated that the results will inform an amendment to the country's tobacco control law to ensure protection for farmers.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Monday, March 5, 2012

End Date

Saturday, February 28, 2015


24 months

IDRC Officer

Lecours, Natacha

Total funding

CA$ 403,600


Bangladesh, Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia, Viet Nam


Food, Environment, and Health

Project Leader

Palash Baral

Project Leader

Farida Akhter



Institution Country


Institution Website