Why eating more hummus could help the world stop smoking

Posted by in offbeat

Campaigners are urging people to ditch their cigarettes and take up eating hummus instead.

Although it sounds like a tongue-in-cheek message, the campaign has a serious motive. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that farmers in Virginia, US, were starting to ditch their tobacco crops in favour of chickpeas - the main ingredient of the Middle Eastern dip.

Tobacco is becoming an increasingly difficult crop to make sustainable, particularly in the US where government subsidies have begun to dry up and rates of smoking have gone down.

The rationale of the new campaign from anti-smoking group The Truth is the more hummus that is bought, the more money farmers will make from chickpeas, and in turn the less tempted they will be to keep growing tobacco.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a public health charity that helps people stop smoking, told that the campaign's motives are admirable.

The sentiment is sound. Not only is tobacco deadly, but it is also bad news for farmers. Conditions on many farms are very poor, there are usually large amounts of chemicals used to treat the crop and nicotine poisoning from Green Tobacco Sickness can be very harmful.

Many smokers are looking to review their whole lifestyle - not only to quit smoking, but also to improve their diet and eat more fruit and vegetables. So whether or not that incorporates eating more hummus, I think it is a good idea.

  • Amanda Sandford, Information Manager at ASH

Tobacco sales in the UK have seen a dramatic decrease in the past two decades (see below), while hummus has become one of the most popular dishes in the country. A survey last year showed that 41 per cent of us keep a tub in the fridge and that we get through £61m worth of the stuff every year.

It's high in protein, won't give you lung cancer and could be better for those working on the land. What's not to love?

More: The incentive you need to stop smoking, in one glorious chart

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