Tobacco farmers and traders of Rangpur division on Saturday threatened that they would bar finance minister AMA Muhith from entering Rangpur if he did not depart from his ‘biased policy’ against the bidi industry.
Addressing a press conference at the National Press Club in Dhaka, leaders of Greater Rangpur Tobacco Farmers and Businessmen Association came down heavily on the finance minister as he had earlier hinted at shutting down all the bidi factories, said a press release.
As the multinational British American Tobacco company argued for banning the production of bidi at a meeting, AMA Muhith on July 30 told reporters at the secretariat that the government had taken steps to bring an end to consumption of bidis in the country, it said.
Tobacco farmers in the conference said that smoking was indeed injurious to health and the precaution was applicable for both cigarette and bidi smoking.
Claiming that a cigarette contains more tobacco than a homespun bidi, general secretary of the association Mohammad Masum Fakir said that the government should act neutrally if it planned to check smoking.
He added that the closure of bidi factories would leave thousands of people, dependent on the cottage industry, unemployed.
Hamidul Haque, president of Rangpur Tobacco Farmers and Businessman Co-operative, said that 20 lakh people of the region were living in uncertainty after the finance minister’s recent remarks.
Cooperative leaders, including vice-president Shafikul Islam Tuhin, members Bikash Ray, Rubel Mia, Masud Hasan, Amzad Hossain, Milon Ray and Nitay Chandra, among others, were present, the release said.
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