Thai retailers say proposed tobacco measures will hit them, not smoking

| November 16, 2012

The Thai Tobacco Trade Association (TTTA), which represents about 1,300 retailers, wholesalers and distributors acrossThailand, has called on the Ministry of Public Health to abandon plans for further anti-tobacco measures, according to a story in the Bangkok Post.

“We are not against health concerns, but the law should not increase the burden on retailers as selling cigarettes is not against the law,” said TTTA executive director Varaporn Namatra.

“The law should not limit people’s rights and freedoms.”

The provisions under the proposed Tobacco Consumption Control Act (TCCA) will require retailers – there are said to be 480,000 registered retailers nation-wide – to submit costly annual reports, restrict the age of sales persons, participate in anti-smoking campaigns and restrict the display of prices.

The TCCA would also prohibit major retailers from partnering government agencies in conducting charitable programs, such as providing disaster relief support in response to flooding, Varaporn said.

“Moreover, the draft is too broad, ambiguous and gives the Public Health Ministry too much authority to issue further regulations without public consultation or review by parliament,” she said.

According to a new poll conducted amongst 1,000 retailers by IpsosThailandon behalf of TTTA, 78 per cent of retailers believe the new regulations will negatively affect their businesses.

Seventy two per cent of retailers believe more education and 50 per cent believe better enforcement of current laws would be more effective in reducing smoking rates than would the introduction of new regulations.

At a time when retailers expected economic conditions to worsen next year, it might be counter-productive of the government to experiment with costly tobacco regulations that would hurt retailers but do very little, if anything at all, to reduce smoking levels, said Varaporn.

The new provisions have undergone four public hearings and are open to the public for comments. The process should be finished next month.

At that time, the provisions will be submitted to the health minister and the cabinet.

Category: Breaking News

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