Karnataka government yet to implement vendor licensing for selling tobacco products

  • Though activists and citizens have been pushing for vendor licencing to sell tobacco and related products, the state government has been dragging its feet over the issue and is yet to pass the final notification.
  • In January 2021, the government notified the draft bylaws of Karnataka Municipalities (Regulation and inspection of places used for the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products) which proposed that outlets, selling tobacco products, will have to obtain a licence from the local municipal body.
  • “The proposal to introduce vendor licencing was first submitted in 2013. However, talks have been going on ever since. Now, the government has assured us that it will soon be implemented. We are looking forward to it,” said S J Chander, convener of the Consortium for Tobacco-free Karnataka.
  • According to sources, there has been immense pressure from the tobacco industry to keep the notification on hold.
  • “It is a huge industry and it is not easy for the government to implement it immediately. For instance, the Jharkhand government brought in a similar law and recalled it later owing to the pressure,” they said.
  • Apart from vendor licencing, Chander also suggested that the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003 needs to be amended to increase the fines and empower the enforcement agencies.
  • “People don’t feel the heat since the fines are low. Also, the enforcement agencies, such as the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the police, should be empowered to take strict actions against violations,” he said.
  • There have been constant complaints by the public about the violation of the COTPA Act, especially pointing out that smoking in public places has been rampant across the city.
  • The BBMP officials said they have been conducting regular enforcement drives.
  • “We have a four-point strategy – awareness, enforcement, targetted counselling, and focus group discussion in a clinical setup. We have a dedicated team chalking out plans to conduct at least one enforcement drive and one awareness drive every week,” Dr Kumar, head of the Tobacco Control Cell of the BBMP, said.


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