Reiterating the Government’s commitment on tobacco control, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Dinesh Trivedi said it was working on rehabilitation of beedi workers, who could be rendered jobless, and creating alternative cropping systems to wean away tobacco farmers to other crops.
Noting that the biggest challenge to taking forward tobacco control measures came from beedi rolling industry and tobacco farming, he said his Ministry has started consultations with Rural Development Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry to address the issue.
With the Rural Development Ministry, consultations have begun to introduce projects and schemes for self-help groups under Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana and with the Agriculture Ministry, the endeavour was aimed at developing alternative cropping systems to enable tobacco farmers to move to other crops.
The National Institute of Rural Development would help carry out action research and intervention for beedi workers in States such as Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, where the incidence of beedi making was high, he said.
It is estimated that over 4.4 million, mostly women and children, were engaged in beedi rolling. Likewise, tobacco crop provides jobs to a large number of farmers.
Speaking at a national consultation on tobacco control, he said the Health Ministry has also launched a survey to provide a baseline estimate on the prevalence of tobacco usage among adults as also the status of the implementation of the Tobacco Control Act. Its report is expected to be ready by April. The sample for the survey was about 72,000, “largest ever sample in the world’’.