Geographically, ethnically, and culturally Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) (21.25–23.45° N, 91.45– 92.50° E) is a diverse region with hills, ravines and cliffs extending over 13,295 square kilometers constituting 10 percent of Bangladesh's land area. It provides important ecosystem services which play a significant role in economic development, environmental protection, ecological sustainability, and human well being, both in CHT itself and its downstream areas. About 40 percent of Bangladesh's forest land is in the CHT with 319,614 ha of reserved forest, close to a quarter of the CHT land area, and more forest areas in the form of protected forest, sanctuaries, unclassed state forest, and village common forest. However, it remains one of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable regions in the country due to population pressure and ignorance of utilizing natural resources. There are twelve among thirty-five ethnic groups (EGs) comprise the majority of the population in the area. These people live in forest frontiers, depend heavily on forest resources for their sustenance and well being; most practice agriculture, primarily shifting cultivation (Jhum), as the main source of livelihood. But since the last three decades, farmers of the EGs experienced the expansion of tobacco cultivation.

This research has been performed from 2012-2017. To do so integrated researches have been accomplished with a literature survey, extensive field survey in most tobacco fields in CHT, observation in different aspects, making discussion with local community and stakeholders.

Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) grows natively in North and South America. It has been introduced in Bangladesh since mid-sixties of the last century into the fields where food crops were grown, and more widely after liberation in 1971 in the river Teesta silt of Rangpur District commercially. Afterward, this cultivation was extended in CHT. It is mentionable that in the same decade Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) has conducted research and development activities of tobacco which abandoned in 1995.
It is reported by the World Health Organization in 2015 that the global cost of tobacco is indisputable. Worldwide, tobacco production and consumption represent a net economic loss. Also, it can be said that tobacco itself has a lot of impacts on tobacco-associated communities like tobacco growers, consumers, sellers etc. caused of  Socio-economic, crop production, health, education, child labour and the environment particularly landscape biodiversity etc. which consequences the extinction of faunal and floral species.

It is recognized that tobacco is mostly grown in the double and triple cropped areas in Bangladesh. As result, tobacco plays a substantial role in replacing food and important agricultural crops. Currently, tobacco cultivation land increased 70,000 hectares to 108,000 hectares. Consequently, tobacco production raised two and a half times more in the past six years from 40,240 tons to 1, 03, 650 tons. PROGGA in Bangladesh stated that domestic and multinational tobacco companies follow “Comparative Advantage Theory” to expand tobacco cultivation.

Many of the farmers of CHT have been losing their interest in cultivating indigenous crops like paddy, banana, maize, sesame, cotton, potato, pumpkin etc. as they became defaulters of loans provided by tobacco companies. To control the tobacco pests, not only are tobacco growers at risk from exposure and storing of the pesticides during the application but also the chemicals that leach into soil and find their way into aquatic bodies and contaminate the food chain. Furthermore, more significant species of flora and fauna are affected seriously even to extinct regularly.

An international review article of 31 studies of health risk associated with tobacco farming found that the seasonal prevalence of green tobacco sickness caused by absorbing nicotine from wet tobacco leaves ranged from 8% to 89%. Incidence was reported to be 1.9 cases per 100 person-days. Surprisingly, there are no more reports were found in CHT on health issues caused by tobacco. Aggressive tobacco cultivation is posing a threat to public health in CHT. An article on Australian aboriginal peoples (APs) says that in 2003, tobacco use was the leading cause of burden of disease and injury among APs, responsible for 12% of the total burden of disease. Besides, the proportion of aboriginal men who were current smokers (49%) was higher than the proportion of aboriginal women (46%) in 2008. Aboriginal males and females living in remote areas were more likely to report being a current smoker (53% and 52%, respectively) than aboriginal males and females living in nonremote areas (45% and 42%, respectively). Similarly, smoking is the number one cause of chronic conditions and diseases among aboriginal people and causes 20% of deaths in aboriginal communities; this is why smoking is one of the factors contributing to poor health status. Aboriginal people don’t identify tobacco smoking as a health issue due to poor upbringing education. Among the three districts of CHT Bandarban and Khagrachhari districts rank near the bottom in almost all health and nutrition indicators for child health. However, aboriginal health workers experience multilevel barriers to quitting smoking.

Gradually increased tobacco cultivation accelerates a negative impact on all sorts of life in CHTs. Also, this trend is a threat to biodiversity in tobacco cultivated landscapes, it may attribute climate change as well. Based on observations, the following major negative impacts on the environment due to Tobacco cultivation were identified in CHTs.

A. Soil erosion- As a result of tobacco cultivation, long strips of alluvial lands (Char) are formed Matamuhar, Sangu, Kasalong rivers and Kaptai Lake as well. The depth of river water decreased gradually due to siltation. Soil erosion is a common scenario in most areas of Chittagong Hill Tracts. Surface run-off and leaching are major concerns in the cultivation areas.
B. Loss of natural vegetation cover and habitat fragmentation-Due to gravel extraction, natural vegetation, and habitat fragmentation was observed on the banks of Sangu and Kasalong rivers.
C. Soil management -There was no concern about soil health and the effects of agrochemicals among local communities.

D. Soil water level fall- It is alarming for CHTs that the water layer fell by 10-30 feet resulting in a severe water crisis during the dry season.


On 16 June 2003 Bangladesh signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in the 55th convention of the World Health Organization (WHO) for discouraging the smoking and using of tobacco products. Afterward, according to Consolidated Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) Act, 2005 (Act No. 11 of 2005, as amended by Act No. 16 of 2013) Bangladesh government is discouraging the tobacco cultivator to cultivate tobacco product, and encouraging to cultivate alternative cash crops, grant loans on easy terms, such opportunity shall continue for a period of next five years after the commencement of this Act. Though as of CHT grow and use tobacco traditionally and commercially, the national cost of tobacco is indisputable.

Bangladesh's Government interested in control cultivation rather than a ban. It might be suggested following some alternative uses of tobacco cultivation concerning environmental
factor.
1. Green Biofuel: Researchers at the Biotechnology Foundation Laboratory of Thomas Jefferson University, USA, discovered two genes that control oil production in tobacco plants. Genetically engineered plants can produce 20 times more oil from the leaves. Seed oil
was successfully tested in diesel engines.
2. Cottage industry: Papers, bags, basket and many other products can be produced from tobacco.
3. Natural pesticide: Tobacco is a great insect repellent for the kitchen garden. By soaking
as little as a cigarette amount of tobacco in a quart of water and allowing it to soak overnight,
the nicotine released in the water will create an all-purpose insect repellent.
4. Medicinal properties: Tobacco is used for Dental lesions, stomach ailment, and headache. More recently, a study has shown that the chemicals in tobacco may be a factor in preventing Parkinson’s disease. When mixed with a small amount of spittle and applied to stings, tobacco is said to stop the pain and relieve swelling.
5. Bioreactor: Tobacco can be used as a bioreactor to produce transgenic proteins.
6. Biomass / Ethanol production: A good amount of ethanol of 92 % purity can be
extracted.
7. Protein extraction: Tobacco proteins are comparable in nutritive value to soybean
protein. Tobacco is rich in protein and may be useful as a high-protein supplement for
persons who require a therapeutic nutritional formula. They may have value as an emulsifier
or thickening agent in food and industrial products.
8. Honey collection / Entomophilies business: Tobacco flower produces a small amount of nectar. Bees collect nectar from these flowers and store them as honey. Therefore, apiculture in the tobacco cultivated field may be a profitable business.
9. Edible oil: Tobacco seed cab be used to produce very good edible oil.

Eventually, the Bangladesh government has an opportunity to control the role of tobacco in ethnic groups of Chittagong Hill Tracts along with biodiversity conservation by imposing new or amending the existing tobacco control low.
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