New Delhi: Tobacco farmers and small retailers today held a protest march in the national capital demanding roll back of 85 per cent pictorial warning on tobacco products.
From April 1, the Health Ministry's notification came into force for implementation of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Amendment Rules, 2014. It prescribes larger pictorial warnings, covering 85 per cent of packets on tobacco products.
The members of Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA) and Akhil Bharatiya Pan Vikreta Sangathan (ABPVS) held a protest march and also submitted their demands to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Health Minister J P Nadda, said a statement issued by FAIFA.
"We appeal to our Health Minister and Prime Minister to stop this visible example of undemocratic legislation and immediately roll back 85 per cent warnings till comprehensive livelihood solutions are provided to marginalized and displaced stakeholders like retailers and farmers," it said. They demanded a detailed investigation to unearth real motives behind the new rule to implement 85 per cent warnings on tobacco products.
The implementation of larger Graphic Health Warnings is neither practical, nor is in the interest of either consumer,
retailer, farmer or government, it added.
Since cigarettes are the most smuggled item in India after gold, the FAIFA said, "The smuggled cigarettes do not have Graphic Health Warnings, and therefore consumers also prefer them, as many of them believe that Indian cigarettes are more harmful."
There are 45.7 million people dependent on the tobacco industry in India and the government did not consult them
while framing rules, it added.