Tamil Nadu is all set to introduce vendor licensing for selling tobacco products in a month. Under this, shopkeepers need to obtain licenses to sell cigarettes and beedis and stand a chance of losing their licenses if they violate rules laid down by the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003.
Implementation of tobacco vendor licensing was being processed, and would be put in place in a month, said K. Kolandaswamy, director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. “As of now, vendors who violate rules pay fine and go back to selling tobacco products such as cigarettes and beedis. Once vendor licensing is introduced, we can cancel their license. This will act as a major deterrent and enforcement will become easy and better,” he said.
A. Somasundaram, joint director, Public Health, and State Tobacco Control Officer, said under the vendor licensing system, if shopkeepers sold eatables in their outlets, they cannot sell tobacco products. “This way, access to cigarettes for minors will be reduced,” he said.
Identifying violations under sections 6 (a) — prohibition of sale of tobacco products to minors — and 6 (b) — prohibition of sale within 100 yards of any educational institution — of COTPA would be easy, he pointed out.
Setback for industry
“Using the number of licenses issued, we can have details on the number of shops selling tobacco products,” he said. While the Public Health Department is preparing the draft, the implementation would be with the respective local bodies, he said.
V. Surendran, head of Resource Centre for Tobacco Control, Cancer Institute, Adyar, said vendor licensing would be a setback for the tobacco industry.
“They need to set up separate shops and obtain licenses for selling tobacco products. Sale to minors will easily be noticeable as there will be separate shops.Tobacco industries target youngsters as they will be their customers for the next 30 to 40 years, and vendor licensing will benefit by reducing their exposure. Our aim is to be tobacco-free, and bringing vendor licensing is definitely a step ahead,” he said.