The Federation of All India Farmer Associations (FAIFA) on Tuesday asked the government to review current rules on graphical health warnings on tobacco products, saying it is hurting all the stakeholders.
The farmers' body, claiming to represent farmers and farm workers of commercial crops in states including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat, called for a balanced approach after consultation with all involved parties.
"Large health warnings are excessive, unreasonable and have had adverse impacts and unintended consequences," FAIFA General Secretary Murali Babu said in a statement. The current warnings have only impacted domestic legal industry by severely undermining the competitiveness of Indian tobaccos, he added. It has given impetus to illicit trade and unorganised sector, while the overall tobacco consumption in the country continues to grow, Babu claimed. Under current regulations, 85 per cent of main display area on all tobacco product packages has to be covered by health warnings, including pictorials.
Since these illegal cigarettes do not use Indian tobacco, it impacts the Indian tobacco farmers, further reducing demand for their tobaccos. It may be noted that the Indian FCV Tobacco farmers have lost about 22 million kgs, FAIFA said.
"The government must have a balanced approach, after consultation with all stakeholders, that does not negatively impact either the Indian FCV farmers, the tax revenue and domestic legal industry," it said. The current policy on warnings on tobacco products is hurting all stakeholders, including the government, FAIFA added.