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Retailers' federation seeks presence in tobacco conference

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Press Trust of India Guwahati
The Federation of Retailer Association of India (FRAI) today urged the government to include their representatives in the Indian delegation to a WHO conference on tobacco control.
The WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control(FCTC) Conference of Parties (COP8) will be held in Geneva in October, to be followed by the first Meeting of Parties (MOP1) on the FCTC protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products.
"FRAI, a representative body of four crore micro, small and medium retailers, with retail associations from across the country as members of the Federation, has requested the Indian Government to allow participation in the upcoming WHO FCTC COP8," the group said in a statement.
As a representative body of the retail trade, FRAI would like to participate in the deliberations of both the conferences as the decisions taken at these meetings would impact livelihood of millions of retailers in the country," the retail players' lobby group said.
According to the draft agenda of COP8, the participating countries will deliberate on Article 17 of WHO FCTC, which concerns measures providing support for economically viable alternative livelihood solutions for tobacco stakeholders, including FRAI members, the FRAI said.
FRAI president Ram Asre Mishra said, "Any decision at COP8 with regards to finding alternative livelihood must take into account the substantial earning accrued to our members from sale of tobacco products and the millions of poor people deriving livelihood from the retail trade."

The livelihood of FRAI's members is dependent on sale of products of daily needs, which happen to include tobacco products also, he added.
"It is possible that COP8 will decide to completely ban use of additives in tobacco products. Such a decision will be catastrophic for millions of small retailers as India has a very unique pattern of tobacco consumption unlike in the West where tobacco only means cigarettes," the FRAI said.
In India, tobacco is mostly used in the forms like khaini, bidi, pan masala and betel quid, it added.
The association also alleged that the WHO FCTC protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products will bring back the license raj in the trade as it will entail licensing of the entire supply chain, maintenance and submission of various records to the government agencies.
"Such a system is possible only in the Western world, where the trade takes place only through a limited number of super stores. On the other hand, in a developing country like India, the trade is conducted through millions of outlets manned by poor retailers," it said.
Insisting on a licensing and records regime for trading in India would only result in harassment of the marginalised and uneducated small traders, the FRAI said.

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First Published: Aug 29 2018 | 2:40 PM IST

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