SME Chamber

Harassment of Retail

 The GRTU has yesterday held a Press Conference on behalf of importers, distributors and retailers of cigarettes and other tobacco products in relation to the measures adopted by Government following the implementation of Legal Notice 302 of 2009 "Use of Colour Photographs or Other Illustrations as Health Warnings on Tobacco Packages Regulations, 2009" which introduced the pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets and other tobacco products placed on the market after the 22nd June 2011.





The issue relates to the Government's decision to seal existing stocks of cigarette packs that were legally placed on the market prior to the imposition of the said Legal Notice.

Whereas the GRTU strongly upholds the imposition of health warnings on tobacco products, it maintains its stalwart stand in relation to the illegal deprivation of property which in this case consists of legally acquired stocks of tobacco products by Retailers from Importers and Distributors who paid the substantial excise duty to Government before placing such stocks on the market. A judicial protest will be filed in Court against the competent authorities before the Press Conference.

During the press conference the GRTU explained that the rapidity by which stock is sold sometimes depends on the locations of the retail establishment and of the brands which are sometimes more seasonal. The GRTU also explained that it made very reasonable proposals to the Ministry where it proposed that stickers with the pictorials would be placed on the packets but this was refused. The GRTU emphasised that cigarettes have a high capital expenditure and there is a small margin of profit.

Harassment of Retailer What the Ministry of Health is doing on the issue of cigarettes is nothing but harassment. In the wake of the Small Business Act and all the nice words said by Ministers especially the new Small Business Envoy Dr Jason Azzopardi it is nothing but disgraceful that the Chief Health Inspector is allowed to drag retailer to court when he is not even covered by legal powers to act. "Government must decide- you are either in favour of small businesses or you prefer to treat them like sh…" says Paul Abela President of the GRTU. The SBA means nothing if these cases proceed.

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