Recall proposed changes to law on tobacco products: Retailers

Chandigarh, Jan 15 : Retailers from Punjab and Haryana selling tobacco and related products on Friday staged a protest in Panchkula near Chandigarh, demanding the recall of the proposed amendments to the law on cigarettes and other tobacco products as they threaten to further hit the livelihoods of 'petty traders'.

The protest was staged to save the livelihoods of nearly 6.5 lakh micro retailers and their 30 lakh dependants, who have been badly hit by the Covid-induced lockdowns, said a statement by the retailers affiliated to the Federation of Retailer Association of India (FRAI).

The retailers urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to recall the proposed amendment of COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act) Bill 2020, proposed by the Heath Ministry, which disallows, among other things, the retail sale of loose sticks of cigarettes and prohibits sale of tobacco products to people below 21 years.

Varun Arora, a FRAI member, said the amendments seemed to be aimed at destroying the business of the smaller retailers without impacting the large retailers.

"We appeal for immediate rollback of the proposed amendments as they are extremely harsh.

By making age-old trade practices like selling loose cigarettes a cognizable offence and an imprisonment of seven years for small violations makes small traders look like heinous criminals," he added in a statement.

"An uneducated small shopkeeper who barely manages a square meal will have to struggle to get a licence, and not only that, he will also have to struggle to renew it every year," he said.



Source: IANS