Sale of cigarettes in small shops will require licenses? owners protest

BENGALURU: The state government has planned to introduce a license raj for the sale of tobacco and cigarettes in Karnataka for petty shops.
According to a bill prepared by the urban development department, the Karnataka Municipalities (Regulations and Inspection of places used for the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products) model by-laws, the state government will be asking the petty shops to procure a license for sale failing which they cannot do business in the designated places.
“We are bringing the law to ensure that the petty shops which sell cigarettes and tobacco products do not venture near schools, colleges, places of worship, and in residential areas. This is for the common good, as it will help the society in curbing public smoking,” said UDD minister Byarathi Basavaraju.
According to the minister, the licenses will be issued once a year and need to be renewed every year depending on where the shops will be located.
“The license will be renewed every year for a minimal fee and not create any kind of financial burden on the shop owners,” claimed Basavaraju.
However, more than 50,000 small shopkeepers under the aegis of the Karnataka state retail Beedi-Cigarette merchants association, which represents the Karnataka chapter of the Federation of retailer association of India (FRAI) held protests on Friday across the state against the government decision.
The association claims that the license raj will make it impossible for them to sustain their families.
“On account of the provisions of the prohibition of advertisement and regulation of trade and commerce, production, supply and distribution act 2003, our members are already being subjected to daily harassment by enforcement officials, who take advantage of their illiteracy and lack of awareness to extract gratifications, This license will further increase the harassment of our people,” claimed B N Murali Krishna, president of the association.

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