New Delhi–The All India Bidi Industry Federation (AIBIF) on Friday sought permission from WHO and the government to participate in the upcoming WHO FCTC COP7 to highlight the issue of counterfeit bidi trade.

In a press statement here, the Federation said the growth of counterfeit trade in bidis in India has severely impacted the livelihood of millions of bidi workers and their families.

Bidi smoking Sadhu: Photo courtesy: The Hindu
Bidi smoking Sadhu: Photo courtesy: The Hindu

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of Parties (FCTC COP7) is being hosted by India in Noida from November 7-12, later this year. Various tobacco bodies, including farmers, have sought permission to participate in the global event.

The Federation also asserted that by keeping the tobacco farmers and the bidi industry out of the FCTC COP7, WHO and the Indian government are encouraging deterioration of social and economic condition of the tobacco industry-dependent families.

“The government is not realising that our participation is extremely important to highlight the counterfeit trade in bidis in India,” said Rajnikant Patel, AIBIF President.

“We are deeply concerned about the vested interests of NGOs and anti-tobacco activists in India, who through their relentless and biased campaign are influencing the government’s tobacco control policy and promoting extreme regulations that are already hurting bidi industry and consequently employment of bidi workers and causing widespread growth of counterfeit trade in bidis,” added Patel