In China, a 50-year future for N.C. tobacco farmers?

“The China National Tobacco Corp. is by far the largest cigarette maker in the world. In 2013 it manufactured about 2.5 trillion cigarettes. Its next largest competitor, Philip Morris International, produced 880 billion. …

“Last year, China National opened an office in suburban Raleigh to facilitate its growing purchases of American tobacco…..

“A few years ago, a delegation from China National showed up at the farm of Thaddeus ‘Pender’ Sharp III, whose family has grown tobacco near Sims, N.C., since the late 1800s. Wearing business attire and bearing gifts, they told Sharp they wanted to buy some of his tobacco. Sharp says China’s cigarette market reminds him of the U.S. of his childhood, when ‘people smoked everywhere but church’ and the government didn’t care much about tobacco’s effects. Inevitably, he says, China will strengthen its antismoking laws….For now, though, China National represents a way for the Sharp family to prosper.

” ‘It’s not like we are going to quit because 50 years from now everyone might not smoke,’ says Sharp, who hangs his gift from China National, a hand-painted scroll, near the door of his office. ‘Hell, no! We are going to make a living for 50 years.’ ”

From “The Chinese Government Is Getting Rich Selling Cigarettes” b at businessweek.com (Dec. 11)

 

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