Contending that their economic and social life has been severely affected due to the 85 per cent pictorial warning on packaging norm, retailers of tobacco products on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to frame harsh policies against them and the growers.
Akhil Bharatiya Paan Vikreta Sangathan (ABPVS), the only body of tobacco retailers across the country, said the non-governmental organisations have been promoting the interests of supermarkets under the influence of multinational companies and it will affect the livelihood of millions of small tobacco retailers.
According to the retailers, millions of people who are totally dependent on tobacco cultivation as a source of income will further get affected if the Government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) do not allow the participation of tobacco growers and retailers in the upcoming Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).
The retailers’ body has asked the Government to let them present their point of concern during the FCTC COP7.
Earlier, the International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) had also appealed to the Government to include tobacco farmers in the Indian delegation during the FCTC COP7 meeting.
“In the WHO FCTC conference, the discussions will be held behind closed doors and conclusions would be decided by just a few participants. Is it the best way to decide the future of the millions dependent on the industry,” asked ABPVS President Ram Ashrey Mishra.
“Impractical and unreasonable tobacco control measures will be adopted in the conference without any discussion or representation from stakeholders like us.
“Since the conference is being held in India — a proud democracy — it should follow democratic traditions and allow participation by those whose future would be affected,” he said.
ABPVS, which represents 72 lakh traders, retailers and panwallas selling tobacco products in India, held a week-long protest here in March against the implementation of the 85 per cent pictorial warning norm on packets of all tobacco products.
According to ABPVS, WHO FCTC cites article 5.3 of its manual to block participation of tobacco retailers in their conferences.
“The association is shocked that this trick is being used by the FCTC even in a democratic country like India, which is hosting the next conference in November next year,” said an ABPVS statement.