Small retailers cry foul

| December 22, 2017

More than 1,000 tobacco retailers yesterday protested outside the Union Health Ministry in Delhi, India, demanding a reduction in the size of cigarette-pack graphic health warnings, New Delhi Television has reported.

According to the retailers, protesting under the banner of Akhil Bharatiya Pan Vikreta Sangh (ABPVS), which represents about 7,500,000 retailers across India, the smuggling of tobacco products has increased in the country since the graphic warnings became mandatory.

Smuggled cigarettes carried no warnings, giving the impression that they were less risky than were tax-paid products.

The protest came days after the Karnataka High Court struck down the Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014, which had enlarged the warnings to 85 percent of the principal area of packages of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The court, however, rejected the challenge made to the rules laid down in 2008. The 2008 rules, which had required 40-percent warnings, would remain in force until the union government framed fresh rules or amended the 2008 rules.

The government is expected to appeal against the decision.

The president of the ABPVS, Ram Ashrey Mishra, said the anti-tobacco policy was being driven by vested interests promoted by various NGOs that were receiving huge sums of money from international players and that were hand-in-glove with large retailers.

They had been targeting small retailers to prevent them selling other, non-tobacco items, pushing customers to their large shops and closing out all the sources of income of small retailers.

The report said the Union Health Ministry, on September 22, sent an advisory to the Rajasthan government that sought to prevent shops selling tobacco products from selling other products such as candy, chips, biscuits and soft drinks: ‘products essentially meant for children’.

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Category: Breaking News, Markets, Packaging, Regulation

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