India is ‘insensitive to poor, marginalised people trying to earn their living’ say retailers

Indian finance minister ventures an attack on tobacco sales and distribution while proposing six main restrictions in amendment of the tobacco products Bill 2003 to be subjected to India’s parliament. The measures are outlined below with comments:

  1. Raising the age of sale for tobacco products to the age of autonomous guardianship as 21. Maybe then somebody had enough time to make up their mind and burst unconditionally onto the market!
  2. Restricting to be constricting smoking at 100 metres or 100 yards away from educational institutions. Does that include an outdoor university campus or is it exempt from following its own rules and regulations? What if another one became established to open its doors? Would it out numer local convenience shops?
  3. Newsagents and small licenses to post counter-smoking propaganda to sell it to the public or to its audience and
  4. obtain an annually renewed licence that may incur a fee and subject them to bureaucracy.
  5. Individually retailing cigarettes would be an abandoned street necessity! Only asking and begging can pass and become likewise accepted!
  6. And last but not least that smoking premises inside hotels and restaurants and even airports to integrate with the reason to close.

All and all above are the detrimental derivations of the World Health Organisation which never rests for a day! Any questions? Well, yes many! India’s biggest industries in the sector have raised their concerns as the Indian Tobacco Corporation and Godfrey Phillips Plc, a multinational founded in the 19-th century by two homonymous pioneers from the multinational British American Tobacco as well as the small retailers associations who strictly oppose what is undergoing in its financial terms.

Speaking on the issue, Ram Asre Mishra, President, Federation of Retailers Association of India, said:

“We humbly appeal for the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s empathy and request him to instruct the designated ministry to immediately roll back the proposed COTPA amendments as they are extremely harsh. By making age-old trade practices like selling loose cigarettes a cognizable offence and an imprisonment of 7 years for small violations make small traders look like heinous criminals. Compared to 2-year imprisonment for extortion or for dangerous driving that can cause death, this is the extreme of the extremes. This puts paan, bidi and cigarette sellers in the same crime list category as a person voluntarily throwing acid on someone or causing death by negligence etc. How can anybody be so insensitive while drafting the amendment towards poor, marginalized people who are struggling to earn their daily living?”

“Already India has the toughest tobacco control laws in the world which have led to de-growth in legal tobacco consumption. Current laws have only helped illicit and smuggled cigarettes to grow to benefit anti-social elements. Then why these extra harsh tobacco control measures have become more important than other health issues like fighting deadly diseases such as coronavirus, diabetes, obesity, mental health, and diseases caused by rising air pollution etc. Unlike Coronavirus, policy changes like these are totally in the hands of our policymakers and should be given serious human consideration. Today, we feel victimised and targeted as a community and plead for the mercy of PM Modi,”.

Gulab Chand Khoda, Joint Secretary, FRAI, said:

“Our members provide various products to consumers based on the necessities. The tobacco products such as cigarettes and bidis are also included in the products offered by our members. As per law, we do not sell tobacco products to minors. In congested and heavily populated cities, such a restriction is impractical. Petty retailers will have to vacate their place without any means to support their livelihoods. Moreover, if a new educational institution will come up within 100 metres of the retailer’s location and he will again be asked to move,”.

Indian tobacco is 68% counterfeit when sold in retail calculated of tax-ovassion and 20% of Indians smoke amounting for 267 million of whom 1.35 million annually succumb to illness and death and industry giro is worth $ 12 billion. Main industries will submit to the open consultations until voting commences on around the 1-st of February while a tobacco measurement calls itself the tobacco industry interference index comparing this to comprehensiveness of the voting rights.

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