This is not fair of course, the tobacco plant can also be consumed, used as a pesticide and is used in some medicines.
But of course the plant is almost always used for cigarettes. It is a cash crop in the United States, Cuba and China. I don't believe it is a cash crop in the Philippines - at least not for the farmers - as the price of cigarettes is very low here, one of the cheapest countries for cigarettes in Asia.
|Tobacco ready for harvesting|
|Tobacco leafs are already harvested|
|Left already dried leafs, right fresh leafs|
Interestingly when I was surfing on the Internet to research what the status of tobacco in the Philippines is, to my surprise I found that the Philippines is the 15th biggest consumer of cigarettes and the largest consumer in the ASEAN (South East Asian countries). The article called The Philippine tobacco industry: “the strongest tobacco lobby in Asia” of K Alechnowicz and S Chapman from the University of Sydney, is recommended for reading, it gives an interesting view on the Philippines and its long lasting history of corruption, in this case in the tabacco industry, but also in general.
Just as I am writing this, I remember that we were invited for a wedding in Santa Rosa, Laguna, last year December. The bride was working for Philip Morris and he told me that in the plant it is free smoking, while in most factories and offices there is a non-smoking policy, also in the Philippines.
The same article says: A 1999 government white paper on smoking calculated that two Filipinos die every hour from tobacco use. And here is their conclusion.
Conclusion: The politically laissez faire Philippines presented tobacco companies with an environment ripe for exploitation. The Philippines has seen some of the world’s most extreme and controversial forms of tobacco promotion flourish. Against international standards of progress, the Philippines is among the world’s slowest nations to take tobacco control seriously.
So it's more fun in the Philippines!