Gainfully employed? an inquiry into bidi-dependent livelihoods in Bangladesh

Anupom Roy*, Debra Efroymson, Lori Jones, Saifuddin Ahmed, Islam Arafat, Rashmi Sarker, Sian Fitzgerald

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives This study sought to increase government, civil society and media attention to the tobaccoepoverty connection in Bangladesh, particularly as it relates to bidi-dependent livelihoods. Data sources This study consisted of a literature review that examined the socioeconomic impacts of tobacco farming, the working conditions of tobacco workers and the impact of tobacco on consumers, and a primary research study among bidi workers and users. The research included in-depth and semistructured interviews and focus group discussions among bidi workers and a closed-ended quantitative survey among bidi users. Data synthesis Most bidi worker families earn about $6.40 per 7-day work week, leaving them below the poverty line. The majority of bidi workers are women and children, classified as unpaid assistants, who toil long hours in toxic environments. Bidi users are primarily low-income earners who spend up to 10% of their daily income on bidis; the average proportion of income spent on bidis decreased as income increased. If bidi expenditures were reduced and spent instead on food or local transportation, many higher value jobs could be created. This could also mean better health and nutrition for those currently engaged in bidi work. Conclusions The results of this study illustrate the linkages between tobacco and poverty. Tobacco control is not simply about health and the environment, but also about the living conditions of the poorest of the poor. If we are to improve the lives of the poor, we must address the root causes of poverty, which include the production and use of tobacco.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-317
Number of pages5
JournalTobacco Control
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012

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