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Issuance of licence for tobacco shops begins

Published : 25 Nov 2022 09:40 PM | Updated : 26 Nov 2022 05:03 PM

The local government institutions in different places have already begun implementation of the mandatory licensing system for retail shops of tobacco products.  

Although the draft of the proposed amended tobacco control law of Bangladesh has recommended that all types of tobacco businesses, including retail sale of tobacco products must have separate and mandatory licences, the licensing system has already been made mandatory through a guideline. 

The guideline was formulated by the Local Government, Rural Development (LGRD) and Cooperatives Ministry over two years ago. 

The local government bodies, including city corporation, municipality and Union Parishad, have been empowered to issue separate license to those who want to sell tobacco products and those who are already running tobacco business.   

It was known that the authorities of Magura municipality have already issued separate trade license for 498 shops of tobacco products, while 405 in Jhenaidah, 170 in Kushtia, 155 in Bagerhat, and 85 in Satkhira. 

The issuance of separate trade license has also begun in Tangail, Harinakundu of Jhenaidah, Kaliakair of Gazipur, Trishal of Mymensingh and Karimganj of Kishoreganj.   

AID Foundation, a non-government platform which also works for tobacco control is working in developing and advocating the guideline-- ‘Tobacco Control Implementation Guidelines for Local Government Institutes’. 

Shagufta Sultana, project director of the Aid Foundation told Bangladesh Post that the licensing system will also be introduced in Chuadanga and Meherpur municipal towns soon after obtaining the survey report.  She, however, said they are working to bring all the tobacco sellers in the country under the licensing system. 

The Tobacco Control Implementation Guidelines for Local Government Institutes was finalised in 2020 by the Local Government Division of the LGRD and Cooperatives Ministry. 

As per the Article 8.1 of the guideline, separate licenses must be issued for the sale of tobacco products or for the sale and purchase of tobacco products and renewal of such licenses by application subject to payment of a fee every year fixed by the local government bodies. 

With the power conferred under this guideline, the local government bodies will also enforce the ban on tobacco products sale in shops within 100 meters of the educational institutions.

However, most of public representatives and also the people don’t know about the licensing system and the ban on tobacco sale near educational institutions. “We don’t know about the matter till now,” said Abu Taiyeeb Shamim, a UP chairman in Sylhet district.  

Shagufta Sultana of the Aid Foundation said municipal mayors and public representatives of other local government bodies need to be trained in this regard. 

Syed Mahbubul Alam Tahin, technical advisor of The Union said that introduction of the licensing system of retail sale of tobacco products would play a vital role in controlling tobacco use in Bangladesh.

Anti-tobacco activists and experts on public health and tobacco control hailed the government for introducing such a guideline. 

“We hope the local government bodies would be properly utilized in the implementation of the guideline, ignoring the tobacco industry’s interference. Alongside the licensing system, the sale of a single stick of cigarette should be stopped in the country,” said Syed Saiful Alam Shovan, an anti-tobacco activist. 

Many others underscored speedy amendment to the ‘Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) (Amendment) Act, 2013’ as the proposed amendment also covers the licensing system issue. 

Alongside obtaining a separate trade license mandatory for all types of tobacco sales, the proposed amendment recommended putting a ban on selling tobacco items from movable and makeshift shops, declaring hawking tobacco illegal and pronouncing the sale of single stick cigarettes unlawful.

As per the proposed amendment, one seller has to have a holding number to get a cigarette selling license.

Talking to Bangladesh Post, Syed Mahbubul Alam Tahin, an expert on tobacco control, said the tobacco control law should also be amended soon. “The provision in a specific law is robust than guideline or Rules. If the law is amended soon and the tobacco control guideline is implemented properly, the sale of tobacco products would be limited in the country,” he said. 

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