A prominent Indian farmers group has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw a proposal to amend the law regarding cigarettes and other tobacco products, saying it will create hardship for tobacco growers, reports CNBC.
Proposed by the Ministry of Health, the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) Amendment Bill 2020 disallows retail sales of loose cigarettes, prohibits sales of tobacco products to persons below 21 years and restricts in-shop advertising and promotion, amongst other provisions.
The Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA), which represents farmers and farm workers of commercial crops across Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat, said the bill will significantly boost the illicit cigarette business in India.
FAIFA President Javare Gowda said the amendments will ”terrorize retailers and traders and they would not want to engage in the sale of legal cigarettes. Criminal syndicates, he cautioned, will gain ground and flood the Indian market with illicit cigarettes.
Since these illicit cigarettes do not use tobacco produced by Indian farmers, the result would be loss of earnings and livelihood of millions of tobacco farmers who are dependent on the crop in the country, he added.