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Home > Healthy Lifestyle > Tobacco Control Act 2009
Frequently Asked Questions

Tobacco Control Act 2009
Frequently Asked Questions


 

  1. What is the purpose of this new Act?
  2. Do I need a licence to sell tobacco?
  3. I sell cigarettes retail at my community grocery / parlour. Do I need a licence?
  4. Do I need a licence to manufacture cigarettes?
  5. Where can I go to obtain a licence for selling or manufacturing tobacco?
  6. For how long is a licence valid?
  7. Do I have to pay for a licence?
  8. What happens if I apply for a licence but I am denied? Can I do anything about it?
  9. What are the consequences of selling or manufacturing tobacco products without a licence?
  10. I sell cigarettes at retail in my shop. Do I need a licence?
  11. What are the conditions for receiving a licence?
  12. Many of my customers buy single cigarettes instead of a pack. Does the Act affect this custom?
  13. I run a restaurant and bar and I have both a smoking and non-smoking area. Is this acceptable?
  14. If I have taken every precaution to prevent smoking at a public function, but one or two persons are found using tobacco products, what can I do?
  15. May I use automated vending machines to sell cigarettes at my establishment?
  16. Is there a problem with selling “cigarette sweeties” to children?
  17. Does the Tobacco Control Act really prohibit advertising? Under which circumstances is advertising of tobacco products allowed?
  18. Can I seek monetary sponsorship from a tobacco company for an event?
  19. Can I request sponsorship from a tobacco company?
  20. Can I request a tobacco company to make a donation for an event and give a hamper/gift?
  21. What are the consequences for companies/sellers being found guilty of selling tobacco products in prohibited locations?
  22. Is smoking illegal?
  23. Where can’t I smoke?
  24. What are the consequences of being found smoking in a prohibited area?
  25. Can I smoke as I walk down the street?
  26. Is it illegal to carry a cigarette behind my ear?
  27. Will I be charged if I am found with a pack of cigarettes in my hands?
  28. Can I have cigars or other tobacco products on display in my home?
  29. My neighbour smokes in the company of his children at home. What can I do?
  30. My company has not taken any action against smokers in the office. Who can I report this breach to?
  31. Will I be victimised for reporting my company for allowing smoking in the office?
  32. My company’s policy does not prohibit smoking on company premises. Is it illegal for me to smoke in the office?




1. What is the purpose of this new Act?

The Tobacco Control Act has several purposes:
a. To prevent tobacco use by children
b. To enhance public awareness of the dangers of tobacco use
c. To ensure that individuals are provided with information to make more fully informed decisions on the use of tobacco products.
d. To protect individuals from exposure to tobacco smoke
e. To prohibit and restrict promotional practices for tobacco products
f. To prevent tobacco smuggling
g. To provide for the regulation of tobacco products, to mitigate against the harmful effects of tobacco.

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2. Do I need a licence to sell tobacco?

Yes. No person or company is to import, export, distribute or sell tobacco products at wholesale without being licensed to do so.
However, persons or companies who are engaged in the business of exporting or selling tobacco products on or before the Tobacco Control Act becomes effective have up to nine months from the date the Act comes into force to obtain a licence.

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3. I sell cigarettes retail at my community grocery / parlour. Do I need a licence?

No. Only those who import, export distribute or sell tobacco products at wholesale are required to be licensed.

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4. Do I need a licence to manufacture cigarettes?

Yes. No person or company is to manufacture tobacco products without a licence to do so. However, persons or companies who are engaged in the business of manufacturing tobacco products on or before the Tobacco Control Act becomes effective have up to nine months from the date the Act comes into force to obtain a licence.

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5. Where can I go to obtain a licence for selling or manufacturing tobacco?

The Minister of Health will be given the responsibility for granting licences.  Licences will be processed by the Tobacco Control Unit of the Ministry of Health and issued by the Minister of Health.

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6. For how long is a licence valid?

A licence, once granted, is valid for a period of three (3) years) and is subject to renewal.

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7. Do I have to pay for a licence?

Yes. The licence fees are as follows:
a. Manufacturer..........................$TT12,000
b. Wholesaler..............................$TT6,000
c. Distributor..............................$TT6,000
d. Importer.................................$TT6,000
e. Exporter.................................$TT6,000

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8.  What happens if I apply for a licence but I am denied? Can I do anything about it?

Yes, you have the option of seeking redress through the High Court by seeking judicial review or the decision.

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9. What are the consequences of selling or manufacturing tobacco products without a licence?

On summary conviction, a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for six months or on conviction on indictment, a fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for one year.

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10.  I sell cigarettes at retail in my shop. Do I need a licence?

No. Retailers do not need to obtain a licence to sell.

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11.  What are the conditions for receiving a licence?

The conditions for receiving a license will be outlined in the Regulations which are currently being developed. 

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12.  Many of my customers buy single cigarettes instead of a pack. Does the Act affect this custom?

No, however, under the Act, smoked tobacco products may be sold as individual units, provided that they are individually labelled as required.

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13.  I run a restaurant and bar and I have both a smoking and non-smoking area. Is this acceptable?

Smoking in enclosed public places is illegal under this Act. Therefore, where a restaurant or a bar is enclosed, that is covered by a roof completely or substantially enclosed, smoking will be illegal everywhere.

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14.  If I have taken every precaution to prevent smoking at a public function, but one or two persons are found using tobacco products, what can I do?

If you are the manager, owner or lessee you should ask the offending persons to not smoke or to leave the premises.  If they still continue to smoke,  however, and you are charged as the owner for allowing smoking in your establishment, then you may put forward a defence that you, as a manager, owner, lessee or employer, as applicable, exercised reasonable care and diligence to prevent patrons from smoking.

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15. May I use automated vending machines to sell cigarettes at my establishment?

No person shall sell any tobacco product in such a way that a consumer may handle the product without the assistance of a sales clerk or other employee or agent of the seller prior to purchase.

Any person who violates this provision commits an offence and is liable—
(a) on summary conviction, to a fine of fifty thousand dollars and to imprisonment for three months for the first offence;
(ii) one hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for six months for the second offence; and
(iii) one hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for nine months for the third offence; or
(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine of two hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for one year.

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16.  Is there a problem with selling “cigarette sweeties” to children?

Yes. Under the Act, no person shall import or manufacture, sell, display for sale, distribute or supply any sweets, snacks, toys or other non-tobacco items or objects in the form of tobacco products, or which imitate tobacco products.

A person who contravenes the respective subsection of the Act commits an offence and is liable:
(a) on summary conviction, to a fine of ten thousand dollars and to imprisonment for six months; or
(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine of one hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for one year.

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17. Does the Tobacco Control Act really prohibit advertising? Under which circumstances is advertising of tobacco products allowed?

Indeed, the Tobacco Control Act has placed prohibitions against advertising.

There are, however, some limitations to the prohibitions:

A person may advertise a tobacco product by information advertising or brand preference advertising by way of:

a. A publication that is provided by mail and addressed to an adult smoker who is identified by name.

b. A publication that has an adult readership of not less than eighty –five per cent (85%)

c. Signs in a place where children (under 18 years) are not permitted by law.

Please note that these allowances do not apply to lifestyle advertising* or advertising that could be construed on reasonable grounds to be appealing to children.

*In the context of the Act:

- “brand preference advertising” means advertising that promotes a tobacco product by means of its brand characteristics;
- “information advertising” means advertising that provides factual information to the consumer about—
    o a product and its characteristics; or
    o the availability or price of a product or brand of product;
- “lifestyle advertising” means advertising that associates a product with, or evokes an emotion about, or image of, a way of life such as one that includes glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring.

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18. Can I seek monetary sponsorship from a tobacco company for an event?

Yes, but tobacco sponsorships, advertising and other promotions of tobacco sponsorships in which the name of a sponsoring entity is publicised are prohibited. 

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19.  Can I request sponsorship from a tobacco company?

Yes, but the company can not take any credit for so doing. 

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20. Can I request a tobacco company to make a donation for an event and give a hamper/gift?

Yes, provided that the gift/prize is not a tobacco product.

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21. What are the consequences for companies/sellers being found guilty of selling tobacco products in prohibited locations?

Any person who contravenes the respective sections of the Act commits an offence and is liable—
(a) on summary conviction, to a fine of—
(i) fifty thousand dollars and to imprisonment for three months for the first offence;
(ii) one hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for six months for
the second offence; and
(iii) one hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for nine months
for the third offence; or
(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine of two hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for one year.

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22.  Is smoking illegal?

Smoking is not illegal. However, it is illegal to smoke in certain situations and public places.

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23. Where can’t I smoke?

No person is to smoke or hold a lighted tobacco product in any enclosed public space, including any workplace, or in any part of an enclosed public place or workplace.  Some examples of public places include the following:
a. Public transport  terminals
b. Workplaces
c. Retail  establishments including bars, restaurants and shopping malls
d. Clubs
e. Cinemas
f. Concert halls
g. Sports facilities
h. Pool and bingo halls
i. Publicly owned facilities rented out for events
j. Any other facilities that are accessible to the public.

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24.  What are the consequences of being found smoking in a prohibited area?

A fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to six months.

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25.  Can I smoke as I walk down the street?

Yes.

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26.  Is it illegal to carry a cigarette behind my ear?

No, it is not illegal to carry an unlit cigarette on your person.

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27. Will I be charged if I am found with a pack of cigarettes in my hands?

No, it is not illegal to carry a pack of unlit cigarettes on your person.

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28.  Can I have cigars or other tobacco products on display in my home?

Yes. It is not illegal to display tobacco products in your home.

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29. My neighbour smokes in the company of his children at home. What can I do?

Use moral suasion as a good neighbour and see if you can get him to stop.

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30.  My company has not taken any action against smokers in the office. Who can I report this breach to?

You can call 800-WELL (9355) to report it.

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31.  Will I be victimised for reporting my company for allowing smoking in the office?

No person shall retaliate or attempt to retaliate in any way against an employee who notifies government authorities or who testifies in court regarding any activity on the part of his employer that violates or allegedly violates any provisions in the Tobacco Control Act or of any applicable law imposing taxes or duties.

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32.   My company’s policy does not prohibit smoking on company premises. Is it illegal for me to smoke in the office?

Yes. The Tobacco Control Act covers all workplaces including private organisations and residences which employ staff. Smoking in these environments is prohibited.

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