Proposed amendment to tobacco products law puts livelihoods of millions of women at risk: study

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The proposed amendment to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act endangers the livelihoods of millions of women, study finds. The new insertion (section 10A (3)) requires people to obtain licenses, authorizations and registrations for the manufacture, sale and distribution of any tobacco product, he said.

“This insertion, if implemented, will be an extremely harsh measure for small sellers who do not have the skills or the financial means to obtain such a license,” said the study of the human rights lawyer. Vibha Vasuki and Senior Anthropology Professor Siva Prasad Rambhatla.

Tobacco products are mainly sold by small vendors and hawkers who have set up a small scale to sell tobacco products, it was noted.

Most beedis sales take place in micro-stores located under trees and on sidewalks that will not be recognized by municipalities or authorized, according to the authors of the study titled – “A Study on the Status of Alternate Employment Schemes for Women Beedi Rolls. ”

“Therefore, the whole sale of beedi will come to an abrupt halt. If the sale of beedi stops, then the whole beedi industry will come to a halt,” they said.

The study looks at the impact this COTPA amendment will have on millions of female beedi rollers across the country.

The report states that until skills building and alternative jobs are provided on a large scale for their livelihoods, Beedi rolling is the only viable occupation for millions of women across India.

The study indicates that beedis (thin, hand-rolled cigarettes that are wrapped in a leaf and filled with tobacco) dominate tobacco consumption in India.

About 7.7% of adults in India smoke beedis, which have an 85% market share of all smoking products in India, he asserted, adding that any anti-smoking legislation has a big impact on Beedi industry.

The manufacturing process is very labor intensive, the study noted. The cottage industry, more than a hundred years old, employs workers in most unorganized sectors, including mainly homeworkers from poor households. 96% of the total beedi workers are at home while only 4% work in factories. A majority (84%) of home workers are women while only 16% are men, according to the study.

As a signatory member country of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the Indian government is obligated to promote and provide suitable alternative livelihoods for tobacco workers, including Beedi rolls , he stressed.

Beedi workers are among the most marginalized communities in India, according to the study, adding that until skills building and alternative jobs are provided on a large scale for their livelihoods, Beedi’s rolling is the only viable occupation for millions of women across India.

“If the COTPA 2020 Amendment Bill is put into effect, it will have a serious impact on the livelihoods of millions of Beedi workers in India,” he said.


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