Aug 03, 2017 News
If the President ignores the pleas for the Tobacco Control Bill to be sent to a Special Select Committee and assents to it, Demerara Tobacco Company Limited (DEMTOCO) says that it will simply abide by the law.
The company made this known at a press conference that was held yesterday at the Cara Lodge Hotel.
Present at the event were DEMTOCO’s Managing Director, Mrs Maurlain Kirton and DEMTOCO Director, Raoul Glynn.
The Directors said that the company has a responsibility to educate its employees, retailers and shareholders, so that they can understand what the law now requires of them.
The officials said, “We don’t intend to challenge the law at this point in time.”
Glynn specifically stated that it would be premature to say if this is an option in the future for the company. He emphasized that the company has no intention of leaving the market but there are concerns daily from retailers about what the Bill means for their livelihood.
The DEMTOCO Director said that the company is still hopeful about having engagements.
Kirton, on the other hand, sought to stress that as a company and as an industry, DEMTOCO is not opposed to the regulations. In her opening statement to the media, she said that the entity understands the obligations which Guyana has, regarding the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
She was careful to note, however, that the FCTC is a menu of recommendations and not laws. In this regard, the official posited that Guyana can pick and choose what it wants from the FCTC based on what is appropriate for its current circumstances.
She said that the company’s principal concern is to ensure that when policy makers institute laws such as these, they do not pass measures that are highly draconian, discriminatory and even unconstitutional.
Kirton said, “We are of the view that some of the proposals are not balanced and justified. We believe there are less restrictive alternatives which are proportionate, effective, and feasible and 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.”
Even after engaging several members of the opposition and the government about its concerns, DEMTOCO officials said that they were still disappointed to learn that the Bill was passed.
Kirton said, “We were not given the full opportunity as an industry, in formal consultations to advance our views, aimed principally at attaining balanced regulation and removing elements of discrimination and other measures that are too draconian in their effect.”
She added, “Of significant importance to the Tobacco industry and smokers alike, is that while the bill has been passed, it does not come into effect until some time later.
Regardless, responsible marketing of our products will continue to be at the forefront of our business operation.
In the coming period, Kirton said that the Company will work with, and communicate with its consumers, retailers, distributors and wholesalers so as to provide adequate information and guidance as it relates to the new law and its requirements during this transitional period.
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