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Licence to sell cigarettes sparks protests, Retail News, ET Retail


Karnataka: Licence to sell cigarettes sparks protests

BENGALURU: In an apparent return to licence raj, the government plans to make it mandatory for petty shops to obtain a licence to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The urban development department has drafted a bill titled ‘Karnataka Municipalities (Regulations and Inspection of Places Used for the Sale of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products) model bylaws’ which states petty shops will not be allowed to conduct business in designated areas if they fail to obtain this licence.

This bill is likely to be tabled in the monsoon session of the state legislature beginning September 12. “The law is aimed at preventing petty shops from selling cigarettes near schools, colleges, places of worship, and residential areas,” said urban development minister Byrathi Basavaraj. “This is for the common good as it will help curb smoking in public.”

He said licences will need to be renewed every year depending on where the shop is located. “A minimal renewal fee will charged. It will not be a financial burden on shop owners,” the minister said.

Shopkeepers protest However, more than 50,000 small shopkeepers, under the aegis of Karnataka State Retail Beedi-Cigarette Merchants Association, which represents the Karnataka chapter of the federation of Retailer Associations of India (FRAI), held rallies across the state on Friday protesting the government’s decision.

The association said this licence raj will make it impossible for them to sustain their families.

“Enforcement officials already harass our members [shopkeepers] daily, citing provisions of the Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution Act 2003,” said BN Murali Krishna, president of the association. “They take advantage of the illiteracy and lack of awareness of shopkeepers to extract payments. This licence will further increase harassment of our people.”





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