Tobacco Control Bill has prohibitive clauses, infringes on citizens rights- DEMTOCO

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…says not too late to send the Bill to Parliamentary Select Committee 

The Demerara Tobacco Company (DEMTOCO) has said that while it is not opposed to the new regulations, the new Tobacco Control Bill which was passed in the National Assembly on July 27, has several clauses that are socially and economically prohibitive and needs to be amended.

Managing Director of DEMTOCO, Maurlain Kirton

As such, the Tobacco company through its Managing Director, Maurlain Kirton has called on President David Granger to send the Bill to a select committee so that it can be properly analyzed and reviewed to minimize the impact of the measures, not only for the industry but also for the citizens of Guyana.

“We are of the view that some of the proposals are not balanced and justified, and we believe there are less restrictive alternatives which are proportionate, effective, and feasible and that there are several clauses which infringe on the rights of ordinary citizens, and discriminate against many who are seeking to earn their livelihood from the selling of a legal product,” Kirton asserted in a media briefing.

While acknowledging that the Bill is seeking to prohibit smoking in public places aimed at protecting non-smokers, the company’s managing director highlighted that the Bill addresses many other areas of the industry to which the  measures still require some further  probing  and  amending, to  ensure that they are not outright  bans and  draconian  in their impact and  interpretation.

The managing director told media operatives that the words, “place of collective use, regardless of ownership or right to access” should be removed from the said definition.

She continued, “We also believe that public places, such as, private entities and workplaces should be allowed by law, to set up adequately designated smoking areas. For example, factories, restaurants, bars, casinos, hotels, other workplaces or facilities that would be accessible to the public, should have such designated smoking areas that cater for both smokers and non-smokers alike.”

The company also expressed disappointment with the fact that they were not given the full opportunity to have a formal consultation with the Government regarding the bill.

While noting that DEMTOCO is one of the largest private sector companies in Guyana, Kirton said that with the current restrictions included in the bill, this could lead to a loss in revenue.

According to her, while there is no study to prove this, from a business stands point, this is likely to happen for various reasons, especially since it has the potential to create market where people would a evade taxes. DEMTOCO is one of the largest private sector companies here and contributed $4B in revenues in 2016.

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