Companies will have enough time to be compliant – Lawrence

first_imgAmidst concerns by the local tobacco industry, Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence has assured that sufficient time will be given for companies to become compliant before the new tobacco laws are enforced.Last week, the Demerara Tobacco Company (DEMTOCO) raised concerns over the absence of the necessary regulations that would guide them to be inPublic Health Minister Volda Lawrencecompliance with the new legislation. The Tobacco Act was passed in the National Assembly and subsequently assented to in August last year. A commencement order was then signed back in December but enforcement was put on hold pending a public sensitisation campaign and the publication of the regulations, which the Public Health Ministry had to prepare.However, subject Minister Volda Lawrence explained to Guyana Times on Wednesday that the company will have sufficient time before enforcement of the new tobacco laws.“When that regulation comes out, it gives that company a time in which they are to put their house in order. The regulations will not come out today and then they have to do whatever tomorrow… When the regulations are completed and approved, DEMTOCO will have a copy. That is the norm all around the world and the tobacco industry is well aware of this procedure,” Lawrence posited.According to the Public Health Minister, those regulations have been completed and are currently before Cabinet to be reviewed and approved.DEMTOCO, which is a major player in the local tobacco industry, had said that it has been trying to meet with the Ministry to iron out this and some issues. However, Minister Lawrence noted that she has responded to the company and is awaiting some information from DEMTOCO before such a meeting can be scheduled.“I received two letters from two attorneys representing DEMTOCO, who indicated in the last letter, they would like to meet with me. I responded asking for them to send an agenda – what is it they would like to meet with me for – so I can know as a Minister what technical personnel I need to have [during the meeting] to be able to address their issues. I have not had a response from them,” she stated.Initially, DEMTOCO had raised concerns with aspects of the drafted legislation but now that it has been become law, the company said it is ready to be to be compliant.In fact, Managing Director Maurline Kirton said last week that while the company has already gone ahead with steps to be in compliance, some aspects such as ‘no-smoking’ signs and packaging and labelling of tobacco products require the regulations as a guide on how to implement the new laws.“…the institution of the graphic health warning pictures on the packs, that requires regulation where the Minister will specifically say this is the pool of images that you need to use, this is the rotation period, how long the rotation period will last for, you may or may not have what we call a conviviality period so you rotating from images A and going to B… We need to get those images, send them to the supplier, have them printed on the boxes, insert it into our production line, produced, shipped, sell to our distributors and sell to our retailors. (And) there is a timeline that is required to do all this,” Kirton had point out.Back in December, the Public Health Ministry had said in a statement that when the regulations for the packaging and labelling of tobacco products are passed, the industry will have nine months to comply with the regulations.It had also promised to meet with the players in the local tobacco industry “to inform them of the implementation of the complete ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.”last_img

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