Micro retailers and farmers of Karnataka, have organised a march to demand the roll back of the ruling which has directed 85 per cent pictorial warnings on tobacco products. They have called it a “harsh policy” which does not serve the interests of stakeholders.
Leaders of Federation of All India Farmer Associations, representing tobacco growers and Karnataka State Beedi Cigarette Traders Association, accused the Government, that the policy was being executed in a very undemocratic manner. It is causing a big financial loss to millions of farmers, factory workers, rural workers and micro retailers.
“We are unable to understand as to why the Government wants us, the small retailers to be surrounded by horrifying pictures all the time. We do not want to be forced to deliver these messages as they are against the interests of millions of fellow members and struggling communities,” Karnataka State Beedi Cigarette Trade Association President B N Murali Krishna said while addressing the protesters.
He also asked if USA, which is considered an epitome of health and democratic rights had found graphic health warnings undemocratic, then does India have to put 85 per cent shocking warnings on tobacco packs?
As per the Karnataka State Beedi Cigarette Traders Association, more than 45.7 million people are dependent on tobacco industry for their daily earnings. They are agitated as no organisation or representive was consulted before framing the rules in 2014. The association also said that cigarettes are the most smuggled item in the country and comes next to gold. If gold does not have any graphic warnings, then why cigarettes ?
According to them, larger graphic health warnings does not serve any good to either the customer, farmer or the Government. The association is appealing to the Union Government to roll back the new policy.