Within days of many cigarette companies stopping production after the implementation of 85 percent pictorial warnings, the All India Bidi Industry Federation on Thursday said it will stop production of bidis as it was impossible for them to continue with the new norm.
"As per the new notifications, bidis cannot be produced without the new enhanced pictorial warnings from April 1, 2016. It is impossible to print the warning, as stipulated, as the curved area and wrapping paper edges prevent printing on a reasonably large area of the curved surfaces, " said a statement from the federation.
The government's 85 percent pictorial warnings on all tobacco products including cigarette and bidis came into enforcement from April 1. Following the decision, many cigarette brands decided to stop production, citing ambiguity in the rule.
The government decision came even after recommendations of a parliamentary committee advocating pictorial warnings be brought down to 50 percent from 85 percent, saying the latter will be too harsh on the tobacco industry.
The bidi federation said: "Being a law abiding industry, there is no option but to stop production. This being a traditional industry, it cannot be closed down overnight. The government has been indifferent to the plight of the bidi industry, despite repeated representations from various stakeholders. "
According to the federation, the bidi industry is the third largest employer after agriculture and construction. It employs 80 lakh bidi rollers, mostly women at their homes, majority in remote rural areas.