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Restrictions on trade license/NOC to shops violating tobacco ad rules

By our Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, June 28: The State Urban Development Department has issued fresh instructions to all municipal boards and town committees across the state to make compliance of tobacco advertisement norms a mandatory criterion for obtaining and renewing trade license/ No Objection Certificates (NOCs) of shops selling tobacco products.

The instruction in this regard was passed by the Director of Municipal Administration, Assam through a letter issued this month to the chairpersons and executive officers of all the 96 municipal boards and town committees of the state. Instruction to the Director to issue the same was given by the Joint Secretary, Urban Development Department.

The order was issued following an official request from the Voluntary Health Association of Assam, an NGO, to the Urban Development Department to sustain compliance of tobacco advertisement norms in Assam through the intervention of municipal bodies.

The VHAA requested the Urban Development Department to make it mandatory for all shops selling tobacco products to comply with Section 5 and Section 6-a (mandatory display of boards stating sale of tobacco products to minors is prohibited with pictorial warnings) of Cigarette and Other Tobacco Product Act (COTPA), 2003 while obtaining and renewing trade licenses. Violation of COTPA, 2003 section 5 can result in a pelty of up to Rs 1,000 or two years in jail for a first-time violation and fine of Rs 5,000 and five years in jail for a repeat offence.

The Assam Police had earlier intervened to stop all forms of direct tobacco advertisements at the points of sale (shops where tobacco products are sold) in Assam and was successful in removing most of the hoardings that violated Section 5 (rule 4) of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003.

It is to be mentioned that the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Commissioner has already issued a instruction to the officials concerned of the corporation in December last year directing them to take action against shops violating tobacco advertisement norms at the time of issuing trade licenses and no-objection certificates.

The order issued by the Director Municipal Administration further requested the chairpersons and executive officers of the municipal boards and the town committees to issue necessary order in similar line with the GMC order.

According to Section 5 of COTPA, tobacco products can be advertised in the package containing tobacco products, on the entrance and inside warehouse storing tobacco products and at the point of sale or distribution only. But hoardings at the point of sale that are larger than the prescribed (60cmx45cm) size and the presence of more than two boards at one point of sale are regarded as violations.

About the author

Ankur Kalita