Tobacco control experts join issue with lawmakers

Updated - November 16, 2021 06:59 pm IST

Published - April 02, 2015 04:03 am IST - NEW DELHI

“Even if India manages to reduce  tobacco use, there will be no impact on farming or labour”. File photo

“Even if India manages to reduce tobacco use, there will be no impact on farming or labour”. File photo

The argument put forth by a group of parliamentarians that increasing the pictorial warnings from 40 to 85 per cent on tobacco product packages will adversely impact farmers has been debunked by experts working in the field of tobacco control.

These experts say that while there are studies to prove pictorial warnings help wean off people from tobacco in the long run, there is no evidence to show that they impact farming.

Dr. Vinayak Mohan Prasad, project manager, Tobacco Control for WHO in Switzerland, told The Hindu that tobacco growing and tobacco trade in India has only grown in the last couple of years. Even if India manages to reduce prevalence [of tobacco use] by 30 per cent by 2025 (the national target agreed by government) there will be no impact on farming or labour as absolute number of tobacco users will remain the same. The tobacco industry gives a bunch of untruth,” he said.

Dr. Monika Arora, director, Health Promotion, and Adjunct Associate Professor, Public Health Foundation of India said the position taken by politicians that the move will affect bidi workers is flawed, because they can be imparted skills to learn alternative activities.

“If rolling bidis was so good for them, then they would not have been struggling with poverty. Tendu leaf collection is also a seasonal job. There are studies to show the impact of growing alternate crops, which are available,” she said.

The Indian Tobacco Board itself has been encouraging farmers to opt for alternative crops.

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