Lobby calls for stringent tobacco laws

Friday January 13 2017

A man smokes a cigarette.

A man smokes a cigarette. Regulations call for standardised packaging displaying graphic health warnings on cigarette packs. PHOTO | FILE 

By BRIAN NGUGI

Campaigners fighting tobacco trade have petitioned the Ministry of Health to stringently enforce the Tobacco Control Act saying its public health benefits outweigh commercial gains for cigarette makers.

“The petition is to call for more effective implementation of Tobacco Control Act in the country and support the steps the government has taken so far,” said International Institute for Legislative Affairs chief executive Emma Wanyonyi said on Thursday.

She said the lobby was carrying out consumer education ahead of the January 27 judgment on the legality of the Act.

The campaigners have been running a picture exhibition outside the Kenya National Archives building in Nairobi’s Central Business District warning on the dangers of smoking.

“At this event, members of the public are signing a petition in support of strong tobacco control laws and so far the response has been great,” she said.

The activists will Friday hold a procession to the Ministry of Health where they will present the petition to the Tobacco Control Board.

Cigarette firms and anti-­tobacco campaigners have in recent weeks sharply differed over the effect of stringent tobacco controls that the manufacturers say will breed parallel trade.

Kenyan cigarette makers and traders were late last year saved from immediate implementation of the tough laws after the Court of Appeal issued a stay and the State allowed dealers time to sell old stocks.

The stringent tobacco control rules were initially supposed to come into effect in September with industry players forecasting huge losses as old inventories were yet to be rebranded.

Besides requiring new cigarette packs to display graphic health warnings, the regulation prohibits sale of single cigarette sticks and only allows full packets.

The regulations call for standardised packaging displaying graphic health warnings on cigarette packs.