Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Medical Effectiveness Research Center for Diverse Populations, University of California, 400 Parnasus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94143 0320, US
Argentina has an annual production of 150,000 tons of tobacco and 70% of this is exported. Since 1972, the state subsidy of the national tobacco industry is through a special fund supported by a 7% tax on each pack of cigarettes. Phillip Morris and British American Tobacco control over 90% of the tobacco market in Argentina through subsidiaries. Overall, 37% of adults over the age 16 years currently smoke cigarettes and second hand smoke exposure affects 70% of homes. Tobacco use accounts for 15% of all deaths in persons under age 65 years and this represents an economic cost equivalent to 0.17% of the gross national product. Health care for diseases caused by tobacco use accounts for some 16% of the total health care expenditures in the country. The transnational tobacco industry views Argentina as an expansion market and has developed an intense advertising campaign including targeting all persons 16 years of age and older. Psychographic profiles similar to those used in the US market have been developed in Argentina to target adolescents and young adults. There is no comprehensive tobacco control law in Argentina. Even though the President has signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, ratification is being delayed by the active lobbying of regional legislators from the tobacco growing provinces who in turn are influenced by industry positions.