Problems and needs are seldom as simple as they might appear. As a result, simple or single solutions may not just fail to solve problems, they may actually create new problems or deepen existing ones. For example, international tobacco control policies and programs aimed at reducing tobacco use have the potential to create economic problems at the same time that they contribute to improvements in health. As tobacco use decreases and the market demand declines, producers and manufacturers are likely to suffer loss of revenue and workers may lose their jobs and wages. In many parts of the world, tobacco production and manufacturing relies heavily on the labour of women and girls. Indeed, “some state policies have explicitly considered “good” farmers to be men with several wives who could control a large amount of family labour, and in some countries, companies that contract out [tobacco production] typically refuse to sign contracts with single men” (Khalfan & Waverly, 2006, p.31). This means that efforts to curb tobacco use, production, and sales will affect the economic wellbeing as well as the health of households, but especially women and children who have no control over or uncertain access to resources. Measures aimed at reducing tobacco use consequently have to include strategies to develop alternative forms of labour and sources of income or the health benefits associated with reducing smoking may be offset by increases in illnesses arising from poverty.
Applying the concepts of sex, gender, diversity and equity to the development and implementation of recommendations helps us to think beyond simple and single solutions and, in doing so, to improve our chances of anticipating and avoiding harmful effects.
Source: Khalfan, M. & Waverley, L. (2006). From the Fields to the Consumer, in Greaves, L., Jategaonkar, N., & Sanchez, S. (Eds.) (2006). Turning a New Leaf: Women, Tobacco, and the Future. British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (BCCEWH) and International Network of Women Against Tobacco (INWAT). Vancouver: British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, http://www.bccewh.bc.ca/publications-resources/documents/Turning_New_Leaf06-28-06_000.pdf