European Vote Could Hurt NC Tobacco Exports

Oct 7, 2013

Tobacco at Strickland Farms
Credit Leoneda Inge

U.S. tobacco growers are watching new regulations being considered across the Atlantic.  The European Parliament is set to vote on guidelines that would curtail the use of additives in tobacco that provide flavorings to the plant. 

Burley tobacco -- produced mainly in Kentucky -- contains a number of additives that change the taste.  North Carolina has some burley growers, but mostly exports flue-cured tobacco.  N.C. State extension economist Blake Brown says any new regulations could hurt tobacco farmers.

"It would have a fairly substantial impact on cigarette consumption in the European Union," says Brown.  "It would cause it to decline.  And if you cause cigarette consumption to go down, then it's going to have a big impact on U.S. tobacco farmers because about 34 percent -- in terms of value -- of U.S. tobacco is exported to Europe right now."

Brown says the new rules echo a growing global health trend.  North Carolina totals about 400 million dollars in tobacco exports to Europe.

Rules reducing tobacco use could mean a major hit for one of the state's agricultural staples.