Demtoco maintains anti-tobacco bill discriminatory, wants review

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The Demerara Tobacco Company Limited (Demtoco) has maintained its initial stance that the Tobacco Control Bill 2017 is discriminatory and though it was passed in the National Assembly on July 27, the firm believes there is still time to amend the legislation.

Demtoco, in a statement Friday, said it remains very concerned that the Bill in many clauses infringes on the rights of ordinary citizens and discriminates against many who are seeking to earn their livelihood from the trading of a legal product.

Nonetheless, the company said it supports the regulating of the tobacco industry as well as government’s obligations under the Framework Convention in Tobacco Control, to which it’s a signatory, and to institute such legislation locally.

But Demtoco, just like the parliamentary opposition that raised a number of concerns regarding the structure and contents of the Bill, emphasised that it is opposed to the ban of selling cigarettes in trays.

The Company also expressed disappointment in not being given the full opportunity as an industry through the formal consultations to advance its views.

“Though the Bill is now passed and awaits final signature from The President, the company maintains that it is still not too late to send the Bill to a Joint Select Committee of the Parliament where some of the contentious issues can be more robustly reviewed. This was done in Jamaica, after the government passed a similar bill,” Demtoco noted.

Notwithstanding, the Company said it intends to comply with these new laws and will be making every effort to educate its trade and retail partners, the consumers and the general public as to what constitutes compliance as per the new legislation.

Demtoco advised consumers, the sellers and the distributor of cigarette products, the Bill does not come into effect until some nine (9) months later. So, it is business as usual while the company, industry and country prepare for an effective start-up date of around May 2018.

“Over the next nine (9) months therefore, the Company will be working and communicating with its consumers, retailers, wholesalers and the distributors to provide adequate information and guidance as it relates to the new laws and its requirements  during this transitional period,” it stated.

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