On Wednesday, Indian Farmers’ Body ‘FAIFA‘ urged Prime Minister to withdraw the new bill to amend the cigarette and other tobacco products rule, saying it would be a death knell for Indian tobacco farmers.
In a statement, it is mentioned that the proposed COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act) Amendment Bill 2020 will offer a huge boost to India’s ever-growing illegal cigarette industry and will have a negative effect on the legal cigarette trade, FAIFA, which claims to represent commercial crop farmers and farm laborers across Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat.
Mr. Murali Babu, the General Secretary of the Federation of “All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA)” stated that the provisions of the WHO “Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)” are in full force and, in some cases, more than required by the FCTC in the amendment bill.
However, there has not been any discussion or action taken on the real problems that the tobacco growers will face because of these proposed strict laws, he said adding that FAIFA wants to highlight this issue to the prime minister and that such strict laws will have a direct effect on the members of this Federation and other tobacco farmers.
FAIFA told it will appeals to the Prime Minister to recall the COTPA Reform Act because it will be a death knell for Indian FCV tobacco growers.
FAIFA President Javare Gowda said the proposed harsh amendments will “terrorise retailers and traders and they would not like to participate in the sale of legal cigarettes,” adding that as a result, criminal syndicates who have been promoting illegal tobacco will gain ground and flood the Indian market with illicit cigarettes.
As these illegal cigarettes do not use tobacco produced by Indian farmers, millions of tobacco farmers dependent on the country’s crops will lose their income and livelihoods, he added.
The amendment introduced by the Ministry of Health to COTPA prohibits the retail selling of loose cigarette sticks, prohibits the sale of tobacco products to persons under 21 years of age, restricts in-store advertisement and promotion, among other items.
FAIFA said the government has introduced “harsh tobacco regulations” in recent years, such as raising the size of pictorial notifications, imposing excessive taxes on cigarettes with a tax burden that has more than trebled since 2012-13, and has even removed export benefits.
All of these are leading to negative effects on the livelihood of tobacco growers’ crores without offering any alternative opportunities for employment, he added.