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Community Health Sciences Professor Virginia Li collaborated with local officials and village leaders in China to institute a crop substitution program among tobacco farmers in Yunnan Province. The area is famous for its tobacco, and is home to Asia's biggest cigarette manufacturer.
"For China to reduce tobacco use, public anti-smoking campaigns are not sufficient. The key is to show that income from crop substitutions can exceed that from tobacco growth."
The for-profit, farmer-led project has successfully demonstrated that substituting tobacco with other food crops, such as grapes and mushrooms, can increase farmers' annual income by anywhere from 21 to 110 percent per acre. The program is part of an attempt to curb tobacco use in a country where 350 million people smoke, and a million people die every year from smoking.