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“The bill is not balanced and will cripple the tobacco industry once it is passed in the Parliament,” – Tobacco Executive Maurlaine Argyle-Kirton“Revenue brought in through the tobacco industry does not compensate for the amount of lives that are being lost from smoking and second hand smoke every year,” – PAHO/WHO Country Representative Dr. William Adu-Krow By Jeanna Pearson “In Guyana, children are “allowed” to buy cigarettes, cigarettes are sold in sticks for as low as forty dollars, andDr. William Adu-Krowpeople are left to suffer from second hand smoke,” is the concerned observation of Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Country Representative Dr. William Adu-Krow.The medical expert asserts that there is a burning need for tobacco restrictions to be meaningfully enforced in Guyana, while stressing that revenue brought in through the tobacco industry does not compensate for the amount of lives that are being lost from smoking and second-hand smoke every year.Every year, tobacco kills 6 million people— 5.4 million active smokers and 600,000 non-smokers exposed to second hand smoke. It is the only legal consumer product that kills up to half of its users when used exactly as intended by the manufacturer, costing the global economy an estimated US$200 billion each year.In 2005, Guyana assented to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and promised to impose regulations for tobacco consumption and its trade. National consultations were held on the proposed tobacco legislation and the Bill was approved by Cabinet a few weeks ago.This Bill, which is intended to protect present and future generations from the “devastating harms” of tobacco use, exposure to tobacco smoke,Cheap Anaheim Ducks Hoodies, and specifically to prevent tobacco use among youths, is expected to be tabled in Parliament next month. The legislation is also seeking to ensure that the public is protected from the commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry, while preventing the illicit trade in tobacco products.HEAVILY FLAWEDHowever, the key stakeholder in the tobacco trade, Demerara Tobacco Ltd has said that the bill— in its present state— is heavily flawed. Managing Director of the company Maurlaine Argyle-Kirton, in an interview with Kaieteur News, posited that “the bill is not balanced and will cripple the tobacco industry once it is passed in the Parliament”.Maurlaine Argyle-Kirton“Our position is that we are not opposed to regulations,Cheap Soccer Jerseys, but what we are asking is that the regulations should be practical, enforceable and balanced. There are big areas of concerns,” she said, expressing disapproval that the company was not included in the consultation sessions.She stated the Bill recommends restriction on advertisement, promotion and sponsorship and also a ban on displaying tobacco products. She asserted that the legislation precludes not only smoking in public places but also in the privacy of homes.“They are literally moving away from what you and I know as public place to include your private homes…that we believe is an infringement on human rights,” she said, lamenting that the ban on public display is also too stringent.She indicated that this “under the counter” type of vending would put pressure on sales and also increase the illicit trade of tobacco. The Bill also proposes a ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship of the tobacco companies. This ban has been extended to corporate sponsorship. There is also section of the legislation mandating retailers not to sell less than 20 cigarettes in a pack. This, Argyle-Kirton, said would force the average man to expend more of his income because he cannot afford a 20-cigarette pack.She added that the intention of the bill is to strip the tobacco industry of its right as a supplier. “We can’t advertise, we can’t promote, we can’t sponsor. They should at least allow us to use the bars, the shops and the nightclubs, because children shouldn’t be there, but the intention is for nothing. You can’t even smoke a cigarette in a nightclub anymore,” she argued, adding that the legislation is formulated to bring about a complete ban—indoor, outdoor, on the streets and extending to the homes.The Bill, she said, moves further to prohibit persons who have worked in the tobacco industry from gaining employment at any government institution for a minimum of five years. She indicated that this section of the Bill has only served to incense her further, branding it as “total discrimination” against a person’s Constitutional right.There is also a proposal to increase graphic health warnings to 75% in the legislation, Argyle-Kirton said, suggesting that the government, through the Ministry of Public Health,Discount NFL Jerseys, should engage in dialogue with the tobacco industry before allowing the bill to become law.“A legislation that moves toward closing the industry down by placing very stringent measures will literally cripple us. They are saying we can’t use our corporate brand, they are saying to me I cannot advertise or promote; they are saying to me that I have to deliver all my reports in a public place…that will cripple us.“But they should understand that consumption of tobacco will happen either way…whether it is a legal product or an illegal product. So if Demerara Tobacco does not satisfy that demand, the smugglers will, and then they (authorities) will lose total control, because they will get no revenue. PAHO/WHO cannot stand up and say they have regulated an industry,NFL Jerseys China, because there will be no industry, they will have smugglers,” she posited, highlighting that they will be forcing the creation of an underground economy.“But at the end of the day our engagement has to be with the government, we are a local company, we are a significant contributor to the revenue base, and engagements need to be with the government. The least we expect is the courtesy of a conversation…it shouldn’t be a one-sided approach. At the end of the day we are a Guyanese company. There are local people who are employed and get their daily bread from selling cigarettes. It is not only about Demerara Tobacco protecting their own interest, but it is about Demerara Tobacco protecting the interest of their employees and the retailers,” the executive emphasised.BENT BACKWARDSHowever, Dr. Adu-Krow insists that the tobacco industry should not be “talking” since the Guyana government has “bent backwards” to consider their existence. He stated that the Bill, itself, is not stringent enough for the framework convention on tobacco control.He opined that the Bill should have included increased taxes on tobacco products.“The tobacco industry has always argued that the increase on taxes of tobacco products in a country would give rise to the illicit trade,” he said, adding “this has always been their cry.”“This is an argument that they will always make. Anyway,MLB Jerseys From China, Barbados has passed it, Jamaica has passed it, Trinidad has passed it, and their economies are still growing. We have not done cost benefit analysis in Guyana. However, the cost benefit analysis carried out in developing countries shows that more money is spent by government to care for tobacco-related ailments than they receive from revenue from the tobacco companies.“You see the money coming in from tobacco sales, but you don’t see the people getting ill from smoking…and the government will have to take care of them. No amount of money we get from the tobacco companies, makes up for the pain and suffering the country will face.”Dr. Adu-Krow said it is crucial for taxes on tobacco to be increased, since it would even reduce the risk of children smoking. “A child may be able to afford a stick of cigarette, but if it is sold in packs and the packs are costly, then they would think twice about buying it.”The Guyana Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS), for 2010, revealed that more than one in five students use a form of tobacco, with 9.5 % of students smoking cigarettes and 14.8% using some other form of tobacco. The survey stated that 11.4 % of Guyanese youths, who were non-smokers, were likely to initiate smoking by the next year.Charity Cancer Research UK (CRUK) researchers has indicated that tripling tobacco tax globally would cut smoking by a third, and avoid 200 million premature deaths this century from lung cancer and other diseases.The researchers stated that increasing taxes by a large amount per cigarette would motivate people to quit smoking altogether, rather than switch to a cheaper brand.Dr. Adu-Krow reiterated that the convention stipulated that the taxes should be increased to prevent children from buying cigarettes easily, but the Guyana tobacco legislation does not even address this issue, so “the tobacco company shouldn’t be talking”.He noted the tobacco company stating that they were not included in the consultation is untrue, because there has been national consultation – 12 times. He also stated that the Framework Convention on tobacco stipulates that PAHO/WHO, and persons who want to enact the draft Bill, should not be in consultation with the tobacco company.“When you want to censor somebody you don’t go and discuss with them why you want to censor them,NFL Jerseys From China,” he stressed. “I do not think anything is done in secret. The convention stipulates that we do not have to speak with them. The country can speak with them if they want to, and Guyana has done so.”
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