‘Withdraw COTPA Amendment Bill’

The proposed Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) Amendment Bill, 2020 has drawn flak from the Federation of All India Farmers’ Associations (FAIFA) on the grounds that the amendments would adversely impact legal cigarette trade while giving a huge boost to the ‘ever-growing illicit cigarette business in India’.

FAIFA, a non-profit organisation representing the cause of farmers and farm workers of commercial crops across Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Gujarat etc., termed the Bill a death knell for Indian Flue-Cured Virginia tobacco growers. Foreseeing an adverse impact on legal cigarette trade in India due to the proposed amendment bill, FAIFA’s national spokesperson Yashwanth Chidipothu, in a statement, said there would be a drastic drop in tobacco grown by Indian farmers, who would lose their only source of livelihood.

FAIFA president Javare Gowda told The Hindu that the Government of India’s Health and Family Welfare Department recently circulated the proposed amendment Bill and sought the opinion of various stakeholders in the tobacco industry in an online interaction.

Among other things, the Bill seeks to increase the minimum age for sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 years to 21, besides enhancing the penalty for offences under various sections of COTPA.

“These harsh amendments that have been proposed will terrorise retailers and traders and they would not want to engage in the sale of cigarettes. As a result, criminal syndicates that have been pushing illegal tobacco will grain ground and will flood the Indian market with illicit cigarettes,” Mr. Gowda said.

Since these illicit or smuggled cigarettes do not use domestically grown tobacco produced by Indian farmers, the result will be a loss of earnings and livelihood of millions of tobacco farmers, he said.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 10:22:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/withdraw-cotpa-amendment-bill/article33590250.ece

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