Addressing stakeholders during the commemoration of the World No Tobacco Day in Kampala on Thursday, the Health State Minister, Sarah Opendi, said government hands were tied in as far as implementing the tobacco law is concerned.
The Health Ministry is
blaming government’s failure to implement the 2015 Tobacco Control Act to
interference from Tobacco Companies like the British American Tobacco-BAT.
Tobacco Control Act was enacted in 2015.
However, the Health
Ministry says the law has been shelved because of numerous injunctions and
lawsuits filed by tobacco companies.
Addressing stakeholders during the commemoration
of the World No Tobacco Day in Kampala on Thursday, the Health State Minister, Sarah
Opendi, said government hands were tied in as far as implementing the tobacco
law is concerned.
She said there is no
way government would enforce the law with pending suits in courts of law. Opendi
noted that since the matter is now out of court, Uganda will be free of tobacco
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Earlier this week, the
Constitutional Court dismissed an application by BAT challenging the enactment
of the Tobacco Control Act, saying it contravenes their right to business.
Dr. Jim Arinaitwe, the Manager of the Center for Tobacco Control in Africa, said
that little or no work could be done until the court suits are disposed of.
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Dr. Hasfa Lukwata, the National Tobacco Focal Person in the Health Ministry,
says following the constitutional court decision, the ministry is to start
enforcing sections of the law starting the 2019/2020 financial year.
packaging doesn’t bear warning pictures or signs. Starting this year, this is
going to change. All cigarettes sold on the market will be mandated to have big
graphic images of the dangers associated with smoking. This is already done in some
developed countries,” she said.
Dr. Lukwata says that they are also going to target tourists with no tobacco
adverts. “In many places, it is common to find tourists or foreign nationals
smoking in open space. We are going to set up a campaign targeting this group
right from the airport so that they know smoking in public is illegal in the
country from the moment they enter,” she said.
Once regulation of the law starts, people found smoking in public or smoke free
zones like Kampala will be prosecuted. They are liable to a fine not exceeding
Shillings 200,000 or imprisonment for not more than five months.
Dr. Daniel Okello, the Health Director Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA,
says one of the areas that need urgent regulation is smuggling of tobacco
substances like shisha.
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According to WHO, the prevalence of smoking tobacco in Uganda in 2018 stood at
17 percent. Data from a 2013 study carried by Makerere University Lung
Institute shows that the biggest danger of smoking is passive smoking.
The study showed that
at the time over 900,000 people in Uganda smoked. However, around 5 million
people were affected by being around smokers.