New Delhi– The International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) on Tuesday urged the Indian government to exercise a balanced regulation on tobacco, which affects the livelihood of small tobacco farmers and families dependent on it.

“Some initiatives by the government would risk the livelihood of millions of tobacco growers without serving any clear tobacco control objective,” said ITGA president Francois van der Merwe at the two-day Asia Tobacco Forum held here from April 25.

The forum — where tobacco growers from India, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines took part — also adopted a declaration demanding protection of livelihood and transparency in the regulatory procedures.

Van der Merwe said the regulation of tobacco products must take into account the impact on tobacco production and the livelihood of millions of farmers and labourers.

Among the topics discussed were the implementation of pictorial warnings on 85 percent of the surface area of the packets of all tobacco products in India.

ITGA is the only organisation representing tobacco growers globally.

The growers highlighted the fact that they grow a crop which supplies a legal market and the crop produced by them provides livelihood to millions of farmers, farm workers and their family members across Asia and assures prosperity for many regions and countries.

Tobacco crop worth approximately Rs.1,200 crore is lying unsold in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh due to a shutdown on production by cigarette companies after the new pictorial warning came into force. (IANS)