New Delhi: Federation of Retailer Association of India said the Union health ministry’s advisory to ban the sale of tobacco products in small shops selling everyday-use and FMCG products has severely affected lakhs of micro-retailers.
FRAI, which is an umbrella body of 40 retail associations, claimed that several shopkeepers in states such as Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh were “facing harassment” overselling of tobacco products along with daily household usage products such as bread, eggs, soft drinks, and juices.
The association also hit out at controls on in-shop advertising saying it will remove differentiation between retailers selling legal tobacco products and fly-by-night retailers selling smuggled tobacco products.
The health ministry had last year issued an advisory to state governments in September, asking them to allow selling of tobacco products from only shops authorized by the local municipal body.
It had further suggested that these shops would not retail any non-tobacco products such as toffee, candy, chips, biscuits, a soft drink which are essentially meant for children.
“We are appealing the Centre to reverse this suggestion. We are also asking it to issue a notification to states to stop harassing retailers,” FRAI Secretary Abhay Raj said.
He said if the suggested restrictions on the sale of FMCG products are implemented there could be a drop of 40 percent earnings of micro-retailers.
FRAI President Asre Mishra said,”The introduction of restrictions for outlets selling multiple products of everyday use such as bread, eggs, juices, soft drinks and wafers along with tobacco products is the restriction of free trade and commerce and will only increase the cost of doing business as rent-seeking by inspectors would return”.
Raj said already the association’s members were complying with the rule to not sell tobacco to children and not to sell tobacco products within 100 yards of any educational institution.
“We regularly update our members about the rules,” he said, terming the advisory as “arbitrary suggestions” which would led to harassment of poor retailers.