The Federation of Retailers Association of India (FRAI) has urged Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to protect the interests of over 10 lakh small retailers from the Centre’s proposed plan to restrict tobacco outlets from selling items for everyday use.
In a meeting of over 1,000 Frai members here today, the body also raised concerns against controls on in-shop advertising, and said these rules will lead to intense harassment of small retailers, and a sharp increase in the cost of doing business, as well as reduced incomes.
The Union health ministry last year had suggested that it will restrict the right of micro-retailers to sell legal tobacco and non-tobbaco products, such as bread, eggs, juices, soft drinks, etc, from the same outlet.
“The introduction of trade restrictions for outlets selling products of everyday use along with tobacco products is a restriction of free trade and commerce and will increase the cost of doing business,” said Shashank Rao, member, Frai and president of Mumbai Bidi Tambakhu Vyapari Sangh.
Rao claimed that retailers who also sell tobacco in Maharashtra are already facing immense financial pressure because of extreme regulation of the tobacco industry.
“Simultaneously, controls on advertising at the point of sale will remove differentiation between retailers selling legal tobacco products and fly-by-night retailers selling smuggled/illicit tobacco products,” he added.
Rao said these measures together will reduce the income of retailers by a minimum of 40 per cent.
Frai is a body representing four crore micro, small and medium retailers across the country.