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Fuel trader: tobacco prohibition will ruin regional petrol stations

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Аuthor: Edijs Pālens/LETA“The initiated changes to the Law on Restrictions Regarding Sale, Advertising and Use of Tobacco Products will create serious losses for petrol stations in rural regions, pushing them ever closer to ruin,” – AS Virši-A Chairman Janis Riekstins says.

He believes these changes will only increase the volume of tobacco contraband. “Tobacco product sales form 40% of the total turnover of regional petrol stations. Proposals for amendments provide for prohibiting the sale of tobacco products not only in kiosks, but petrol stations with a special shop area of less than 20 m2 as well. So tobacco products are to be prohibited to be sold in all trade locations that do not have special tobacco trade areas. In order for companies to be able to afford this requirement, they will need additional investments in the reconstruction of their buildings, which will also bring them closer to ruin,” – Riekstins notes.

“The issue of rural employments has been a very “sensitive” topic for the government for some times now. If the officials’ proposed amendments come into power, the unemployment rate in Latvia’s regions will go up,” – he adds.

He adds that a similar lesson was learned after the amendments to the Handling of Alcoholic Beverages Law came into force (amendments prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages from 22:00 to 08:00). “The prohibition of the selling of alcoholic drinks at night did not contribute to its main goal – the combating of alcohol consumption, because the illegal alcohol market did not reduce; neither did the number of drinkers,” – Riekstins said.

“Instead of limiting the trade volume of tobacco products, which would increase contraband and bring about irreversible damage to entrepreneurship, as well as terminate a large number of jobs in Latvia’s regions, the responsible institutions – Latvian Doctors association, Healthcare Ministry and others – should “do their homework” and inform society about the damage tobacco consumption can do to their health,” – Riekstins notes.

It should be added that the Latvian Press association has also voiced concerns over this matter, saying that the revenue from tobacco products forms a large proportion of the kiosks’ and small shops’ revenue.

The Amendments to the Law on Restrictions Regarding Sale, Advertising and Use of Tobacco Products bill provide for widespread restrictions to the handling and consumption of tobacco products, including the prohibition to smoke on the balconies of multi-apartment buildings and public buildings.

Ref: 102.109.109.6859


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