“There are no alternative crops for bidi/tobacco farmers ... The new rule that 85 per cent of the bidi wrapper should contain horrific warnings, etc., will cause the bidi industry to collapse.” These are among the many concerns submitted to the committee on subordinate legislation (Lok Sabha) against increase in pictorial warnings on tobacco products.
“Serious apprehensions have been expressed about the adverse impact of the modified rules on the livelihood of a large number of people directly or indirectly involved in bidi and tobacco trade,” the committee says in the report.
Shyama Charan Gupta, MP, in his letter to the committee, has submitted that “bidis are natural products. They are very small as compared to cigarettes and there is very little tobacco in each bidi, hence the harmful effects are nil as compared to cigarettes and chewing tobacco. There is no medical evidence that bidis cause cancer.”
The All India Bidi Industry Federation told the committee that bidis are packed in bundles of 10-25 and if 85 per cent of the area is to be earmarked for health warning, there would be no space for printing the brand logo or name.
“Without brand/logo it is not possible to sell bidis,” it said.