Transcript: Ontario Hubs: Tobacco Farms | May 03, 2019

Jeyan sits in the studio. He's is in his thirties, with short black hair and a trimmed beard. He's wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt, and gray plaid tie.

A caption on screen reads "Ontario Hubs: Tobacco farms. Jeyan Jeganathan. @JeyanTVO. @theagenda."

Jeyan says THERE WERE ONCE MORE
THAN 4000 TOBACCO FARMS IN THIS
PROVINCE.
BUT AS SMOKING BECAME PUBLIC
HEALTH ENEMY NUMBER 1, THAT
NUMBER CRASHED.
NOW, NEW MARKETS MAY MEAN A
COMEBACK.
WITH US FROM OUR STUDIO AT
WESTERN UNIVERSITY IN LONDON:
MARY BAXTER, OUR SOUTHWESTERN
ONTARIO HUB EDITOR.

Mary is in her forties, with shoulder-length wavy brown hair. She's wearing a black blazer.

Jeyan continues WELCOME TO THE SHOW, MARY.

Mary says IT'S GOOD TO BE HERE, JEYAN.

Jeyan says NOW A LOT OF PEOPLE,
PARTICULARLY THOSE LIVING IN THE
CITIES, MAY NOT EVEN REALIZE
THAT THERE ARE TOBACCO FARMS IN
THIS PROVINCE.
CAN YOU GIVE US A SENSE OF HOW
THEY ARE BEING HARVESTED AND
WHERE IN ONTARIO?

The caption changes to "Mary Baxter. Southwest Ontario Hub Editor."
Then, it changes again to "History of the crop."

Mary says WELL, TOBACCO IS BEING GROWN
MOSTLY IN THE SAND PLAINS
REGION, WHICH IS AN AREA... IT
COVERS BASICALLY FOUR COUNTIES:
BRANT, ELGIN, MIDDLESEX, OXFORD
AND NORFOLK COUNTIES.
I THINK I GOT THEM ALL.
AND IT'S ALSO THERE'S A...
THAT'S THE MAIN AREA OF
PRODUCTION.
ANOTHER TYPE OF TOBACCO IS GROWN
IN CHATHAM-KENT, BUT THAT'S A
VERY SMALL CROP.
IN THE SAND PLAINS, BELIEVE IT
OR NOT, THEY HARVEST ABOUT 23
KILOGRAM... SORRY, 23 MILLION
KILOGRAMS A YEAR.
THAT SOUNDS LIKE A BIG NUMBER.
I'M GOING TO GIVE YOU ANOTHER
ONE THAT'S EVEN BIGGER, BECAUSE
THAT ACTUALLY TRANSLATES INTO
ABOUT 28 BILLION CIGARETTES IN A
YEAR.
AND IF YOU THINK THAT NUMBER'S
BIG, JUST LISTEN TO THIS.
28 BILLION CIGARETTES IS JUST,
LIKE, LESS THAN TWO DAYS' WORTH
OF SUPPLY FOR THE GLOBAL DEMAND
FOR CIGARETTES.
LESS THAN TWO DAYS WORTH.

Jeyan says THAT'S A LOT OF
CIGARETTES FOR SURE.
NOW I WANT TO GET AN IDEA OF
KIND OF HOW THAT AMOUNT HAS
CHANGED OVER THE DECADES.
IT SEEMS LIKE THERE IS AN
INCREASE IN DEMAND.

The caption changes to "Mary Baxter, @MaryBWord."

Mary says YES, ACTUALLY, TOBACCO HAS
BEEN GROWN IN ONTARIO FOR MANY,
MANY DECADES, AND IT WAS ONCE,
AS OUR INTRODUCTION TALKED
ABOUT, IT WAS ONCE A VERY LARGE
CROP, BUT IT STARTED TO DWINDLE.
ONE OF THE BIG REASONS IS, OF
COURSE, PUBLIC HEALTH CAMPAIGNS
TO GET PEOPLE TO STOP SMOKING
WEAKENED THE DEMAND FOR IT, FOR
CIGARETTES HERE IN CANADA, AND
TO THE POINT THAT IN 2005
IMPERIAL TOBACCO, WHICH WAS ONE
OF THE BIG COMPANIES THAT BOUGHT
TOBACCO HERE IN ONTARIO,
ANNOUNCED THAT IT WAS GOING TO
MOVE ITS PRODUCTION AND ITS
MANUFACTURING TO MEXICO
SO THAT JUST PRETTY WELL PULLED
THE RUG.
SO THAT JUST PRETTY WELL PULLED
THE RUG OUT FROM UNDER THE
MARKET.
PRICES WENT DOWN, BUT SO DID
ACREAGE.
IT JUST PLUMMETED IN TERMS OF
HOW MUCH THEY WERE ACTUALLY
PRODUCING.
SO THEN WHAT HAPPENED WAS THE
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DECIDED TO
GIVE GROWERS A BUYOUT.
TOBACCO GROWERS, FOR MANY, MANY
YEARS, WERE SUPPLY MANAGED, SO
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BOUGHT
BACK THE QUOTA, ESSENTIALLY, FOR
MOST BUT NOT ALL GROWERS, AND
ALLOWED THEM TO GET OUT OF THAT
BUSINESS AND TO PERHAPS LAUNCH
INTO ANOTHER TYPE OF CROP OR TO
RETIRE.
BUT THERE WAS STILL A HANDFUL OF
GROWERS WHO KEPT GROWING, AND
ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT THE
BUYOUT WAS THAT THE CONDITION...
ONE CONDITION WAS THAT THE
FORMER GROWERS COULDN'T GROW
THEMSELVES, BUT NOTHING STOPPED
THEM FROM SHARING THEIR
KNOWLEDGE OR EXPERTISE WITH
OTHERS, AND SOMETIMES WHAT
HAPPENED, EVEN WITHIN FAMILIES,
THE PARENTS MIGHT HAVE TAKEN THE
BUYOUT, BUT THEN HELPED ADVISE
CHILDREN, PERHAPS, ON HOW TO
GROW TOBACCO AND, YOU KNOW, TO
CONTINUE ON IN THE BUSINESS.
BUT THE BIG QUESTION IS WHERE
WERE THEY SELLING IT.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Mary continues AS IT TURNS OUT, WHAT I WAS TOLD
IS A LOT OF THAT IS GOING TO
MARKETS IN PLACES LIKE CHINA.
IN CHINA THERE'S... WITH THE
GROWTH OF THE MIDDLE CLASS,
THERE'S MORE DEMAND FOR
CIGARETTES, AND THE CANADIAN
TOBACCO IS CONSIDERED A BIT OF A
LUXURY ITEM.
IT'S A VERY GOOD QUALITY
PRODUCT, SO EVEN THOUGH DOMESTIC
DEMAND HAS BEEN REDUCING HERE IN
CANADA, AND THE GROWERS ONLY
HAVE A PORTION OF THAT DOMESTIC
DEMAND BECAUSE A LOT OF IT IS
BEING SUPPLIED BY IMPORTS,
THERE'S THIS OTHER DEMAND THAT'S
HAPPENING IN CHINA WHICH HAS
ALLOWED THEM TO MAINTAIN THEIR
PRODUCTION.

The caption changes to "No longer a dwindling industry."

A screenshot from the TVO website pops up showing an article. It reads "tvo.org/current-affairs, Ontario Hubs, On-the-ground analysis of regional issues. Southwestern. Why tobacco is making a comeback on Ontario farms. By Mary Baxter."

Jeyan says NOW I'M CURIOUS TO
KNOW, YOU KNOW, SOMETHING THAT
WE HAVE SEEN QUITE POPULAR OF
LATE IS VAPING.
DOES THAT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO
WITH THE RESURGENCE OF CANADIAN TOBACCO?

Mary says THAT'S AN INTERESTING... I
ASKED THAT QUESTION, ACTUALLY,
TO BOTH WHO WERE GROWING IT AND
TOBACCO AND THOSE WHO WERE
INVOLVED IN PUBLIC HEALTH.
AND THEY SAID RIGHT NOW YOU
REALLY CAN'T MAKE A CONNECTION.
THE MAIN PERCEPTION IS THAT
SMOKERS ARE USING VAPING AS A
WAY TO GET OFF OF CIGARETTES SO
THAT THERE'S GOING TO BE A RISE
IN DEMAND, BUT IT'S SIMPLY KIND
OF LIKE A REPLACEMENT THING.
SO OVERALL THERE'S NO RISE IN
DEMAND.
EXCEPT RECENT RESEARCH IS
SHOWING THAT WITH YOUTH, VAPING
IS... THE POPULARITY OF VAPING
IS GOING UP.
RESEARCHERS THINK THERE'S A
COUPLE OF THINGS BEHIND THERE, A
NEW PRODUCT AN ALSO THE
LEGALIZATION OF VAPING, AND THEY
ARE ALSO SEEING THAT RATES OF
SMOKING IN THAT AGE GROUP HAVE
PLATEAUED.
FOR YEARS THEY'VE BEEN REDUCING,
BUT ALL OF A SUDDEN THEY JUST
STARTED TO PLATEAU.
SO THERE'S A CONCERN THAT THERE
MIGHT BE A LEAP FROM VAPING INTO
SMOKING IN THAT AGE GROUP.
SO WHO KNOWS.
IT'S STILL A QUESTION MARK, BUT
PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE CONCERNED.

Jeyan says SOMETHING I'M CURIOUS
ABOUT, YOU TOUCHED ON THE PUBLIC
HEALTH CAMPAIGNS THAT MAY HAVE
CAUSED THE DECREASE IN TOBACCO
CONSUMPTION, BUT HOW DOES THE
FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL
GOVERNMENT'S STANCE ON SMOKING
COMPARED TO ITS STANCE ON TOBACCO?

The caption changes to "Smoking policy versus practice."

Mary says WELL, AS WE KNOW, THEIR
STANCE ON SMOKING IS QUITE
RESTRICTIVE.
IN FACT, THIS WEEK WE JUST HAVE
SEEN THE INTRODUCTION OF NEW
PACKAGING REGULATIONS WHICH ARE
TOUTED AS BEING SOME OF THE
TOUGHEST IN THE WORLD, IF NOT
THE TOUGHEST.
SO WE SEE THAT TYPE OF THING
HAPPENING, BUT AT THE SAME TIME
THERE HAVE... ALTHOUGH THERE
HAVE BEEN SUGGESTIONS AT BOTH
THE PROVINCIAL LEVEL TO REDUCE
THE... AND JUST ELIMINATE
TOBACCO PRODUCTION IN THE FIELD
AND AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL THERE'S
ALSO BEEN SOME SUGGESTIONS THAT
SOMEHOW THAT CROP SHOULD BE
CAPPED, WE HAVEN'T REALLY SEEN
GOVERNMENTS TAKE UP THOSE SUGGESTIONS.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Jeyan says ALL RIGHT, MARY.
WELL, IT'S ALWAYS A PLEASURE.
VERY INTERESTING STORY AS WELL.
YOU CAN CATCH IT ON OUR WEBSITE
AT tvo.org. THANKS AGAIN.

The caption changes to "Producer: Patricia Kozicka, @TrishKozicka."

Mary says THANKS, JEYAN.

An animated slate reads "Ontario Hubs. Ontario Hubs are made possible by The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust and Goldie Feldman."

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