A ROW has broken out within Huddersfield’s Sikh community over a Government ban on cigarette displays in shops.
Newsagent and Sikh community leader Inderpal Randhawa has criticised a Government law which will outlaw tobacco displays from all shops by 2015.
But Mr Randhawa’s comments have caused anger among members of Fartown Sikh Temple, who have backed the Government ban.
They say Mr Randhawa should not be making such comments in his position as general secretary of Springwood Sikh Temple.
Sikhs gathered at Fartown Sikh Temple on Sunday to show their support for the ban.
Sikh scripture prohibits drinking and smoking although some Sikhs will drink and smoke when not in the temple.
Manjit Singh, spokesman for Fartown Sikh Temple, said: “We think Mr Randhawa has misused his name in the community.
“Cigarettes and alcohol are totally prohibited in our religion.
“As a senior member in the Sikh temple he should not say this or highlight these issues.
“If it was something else then no one would say anything but he is in a high position.
“We’re not complaining about people making a living but he has a privileged position in the temple.
“We think the Government has done the right job.”
But Mr Randhawa defended his position saying his roles as a Sikh community leader and a newsagent are ‘totally separate’.
He said: “I don’t smoke myself and I don’t ask anyone to smoke but we can’t stop them.
“I spoke for my own business, not for the Sikh community.
“That’s our business – we sell cigarettes as well as newspapers and groceries.
“It’s totally separate. I believe in my Gurus (the Sikh spiritual fathers) and I follow them.
“But that was business and I have to make a living.
“I’m sorry if anyone has been upset.”
Under a law passed last week cigarette displays will be banned from large shops by April, 2012 and three years later in all shops.
Tobacco products will have to be kept in closed, unmarked cabinets.
The law has sparked criticism from struggling shopkeepers who believe the law will further narrow their profit margins.