Uganda takes lead in African for Tobacco Control

This year, the day was held under the theme Get prepared for plain packaging. Plain packaging of tobacco products refers to measures that restrict or prohibit the use of logos, colors, brand images or promotional information on packaging other than brand names and product names displayed in a standard color and font style.
Uganda has taken lead in Africa by fulfilling its obligations to enact a comprehensive Tobacco Control Act. This law was launched during the World No Tobacco Day commemoration at a breakfast meeting in Imperial Royale Hotel. World No Tobacco Day is celebrated every 31 st May to highlight the dangers of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Dr. Maina from World Health Organization noted that plain packaging is an important demand-reduction measure that reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products, restricts the use of tobacco packaging as a form of tobacco advertising and promotion, limits misleading packaging and labeling and increases the effectiveness of health warnings. It also complements other strategies on tobacco control.
Hon. Elioda Tumwesigye who also represented the Guest of Honor, Prime Minister of Uganda noted that this is the strongest tobacco control law in the region. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey indicates that about 10% of Ugandans use tobacco among adults while among the youth it’s much higher at 17%. He highlighted that some of the disturbing emerging trends include a rise of tobacco use among women and youth. The increase also noted the introduction of the non-conventional use of tobacco especially shisha (water pipe tobacco) and chewed tobacco such as kuber. Electronic cigarettes have also been introduced in Uganda.
Hon. Tumwesigye urged Ugandans to follow H.E. Yoweri Museveni as a role model for healthy lifestyles. Ugandans should emulate President Yoweri Museveni who leads by example in promoting a healthy lifestyle. We have a leader who does not drink alcohol or consume tobacco products and engages in physical activity. This promotes a healthy lifestyle and a healthy nation at large he said.
Globally, the consumption of tobacco products leads to the death of more than 5 million people.Tobacco is one of the leading preventable risk factors for non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes.
Minister of State for General Duties, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, was recognized by World HealthOrganization in 2015 as one of the global champions in tobacco control informed that Uganda is still grappling with an increase in noncommunicable diseases notably high blood pressure and other heart diseases and cancers which is attributed to the consumption of tobacco products. This has been backed by research conducted in Uganda and in different parts of the world.
The passing of the tobacco control law has the following provisions;
1. Establishment of a Tobacco Control Committee chaired by Office of the Prime Minister with the Secretariat at the Ministry of Health.
2. Tobacco smoke-free environment by prohibiting smoking in all public places, workplaces, means of transport and other outdoor space within 50metres of a public place
3. Display of notices stopping smoking in the public places with words in English, Kiswahili and local languages spoken in the region.
4. The law completely bans advertising, promotion, and sponsorship by tobacco manufacturers, distributors, and sellers (usually referred to as Tobacco Industry) including points of sale in shops etc.
5. The law bans some tobacco products including Shisha (waterpipe tobacco), smokeless tobacco such as Kuber which is chewed and flavored tobacco products. The law further bans the production, sale, and use of electronic cigarettes which are being promoted by the tobacco industry.
6. The Tobacco Control Act bans supply and involvement in processes of production, sale, and use of tobacco by people below 21years of age (referred to as minors)
7. The law bans importation, manufacture, and sale of tobacco products which do not conform to standards of government regarding contents of the products and their emissions when used.
The contents and emissions will be elaborated in the regulations.
8. To protect public health policies for tobacco control, the law bans unnecessary interactions with tobacco businesses, giving incentives and privileges for tobacco businesses and receiving voluntary contributions from those businesses. Public Servants can only interact for official work of regulation and because this must be transparent, regulations governing such interactions will be developed and disseminated to government officials.
9. The law provides for authorized people to enforce it in addition to the usual law enforcement agents including police, environment protection officers, Health Inspectors and MunicipalityEnforcement Officers.
Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi, Program Manager for Mental Health and Substance abuse was commended for her unwavering support in passing the Tobacco Control Law.
The Ministry appreciated the media, development partners and civil society organizations for their continued support in sensitizing and enhancing public awareness on the consumption and dangers of tobacco products and appealed to Ugandans to ensure full implementation of this law to prevent the population from the devastating effects of tobacco and its products.
SOURCE: MinistryOf Health

Uganda Tobacco Control Advocates Position Statement to the Uganda Delegation on International Labour Organisation Tobacco Industry Relationship

The WHO FCTC in recognition that tobacco industry interference posses the single greatest threat to tobacco control efforts worldwide included Article 5.3 which reads;
In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.Uganda signed the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, (WHO FCTC) in 2005, and ratified it on 20th June 2007.Asa party to the convention; we have an obligation to implement all its provisions without reservations.
The domestication process of this convention started as early as 2008, however, it was slowed by various counter-strategies from the tobacco industry including lobbying policy makes self-regulation, litigation threats, Corporate Social Responsibility, misrepresentation of the FCTC spirit, exaggeration of their economic contribution to Uganda among others.
Because tobacco industry interference was the single greatest threat to our national tobacco control efforts and in fulfillment of our treaty obligations under the WHO FCTC, the Government of Uganda devised measures to embed the letter and spirit of Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC in its National legislation and policy process and finally on 28th July 2015, the Parliament of Uganda passed a comprehensive, WHO FCTC compliant Tobacco Control law as a whole Part (viii)) in favor of Article 5.3.
Its therefore against this background that we write to you;
The International Labour Organization (ILO) is the only organ of the UN that still has ties to the Tobacco Industry and tomorrow it has an opportunity to stand on the right side of history and protect workers over corporate profits. The ILO will finally decide whether it, too, will sever ties with the Tobacco Industry. The decision set to come at its ongoing governing body meeting thismonth could shutter one of the tobacco industry last remaining avenues of influence to the United Nations.
This decision comes as a global call by public health and labour leaders around the globe who delivered a letter to government representatives of the ILO Governing Body calling on them to end the ILO’s public-private partnerships with the tobacco industry because of its devastating health, socioeconomic and environmental effects to the global community.
Global public health leaders from the Secretariat of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC)and global tobacco control organizations have long called for the ILO to shut its doors to the Tobacco Industry.
There is great prevalence of child labour in many countries in the tobacco-growing areas including Uganda which exposes children to many hazards, notably long working hours, heat exhaustion, respiratory orders, injuries, accidents, poisoning and health problems from being exposed to pesticides, musculoskeletal injuries, and green tobacco sickness, which is caused by nicotine absorbed through the skin from contact with wet tobacco leaves which is a threat to public health.
In the past 15 years, the ILO has received more than $15 million USD from tobacco corporations for joint programs, including more than $10 million from Japan Tobacco International for its Achieving Reduction of Child Labour in Supporting of Education (ARISE) program. The industry promotes these programs to boost its public relations, but they do little to curb child labor in tobacco fields because they do not shift the tobacco industry-driven cycle of poverty for tobacco farmers that forces children into the fields.
During this ongoing 332nd session of the Governing Body, the ILO will decide whether to follow the recommendation of the UN Interagency Task Force on NCDs and the Economic and Social Council resolution urging members of the task force to adopt internal policies that protect against conflicts of interest with the tobacco industry.
The government of Uganda as a state party to the ILO and a member of ILO & governing board, is currently attending the session of the Governing Body and at this debate that started this week, the government of Uganda supposedly on behalf of the African region, vehemently opposed this proposal. This position is however contrary to Uganda’s policy by virtue of its being party to the WHO FCTC with specific reference to Article 5.3 and part viii of the UgandaTobacco Control Act that prohibits government partnerships with the Tobacco Industry, any corporate social responsibility from the Tobacco Industry and therefore Uganda’s current position at the ILO amounts to conflict of interest which is a breach of our own law.

Recommendations

1. The Government of Uganda should support the ILO office position to
sever ties with the Tobacco Industry
2. The Government of Uganda should send a communication to the Ugandan
delegation to immediately retract their statement because it is in breach of government obligations under the WHO FCTC (Article 5.3) and our
national Tobacco Control Law
3. All government agencies should seek guidance from the Ministry
responsible for Health as a lead agency on matters relating to tobacco and
any government relations with the Tobacco Industry.

CC Ministry of Foreign affairs
CC Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development
CC Parliament of Uganda
CC Ministry of Health