Tobacco Control Activists to Sue UFZA Head Over Contravention of the Law

Tobacco control activists led by the head of mental health division in the ministry of health and the focus spokes person of Tobacco Control Uganda, Dr.  Sheila Ndyanabangi have committed to drag the executive director of Uganda Free Zones Authority (UFZA) Richard Jabo to court, in case he fails to revoke the agreement giving out land measuring two hectares of land to Nilus Limited in Jinja district to enable it set up a 11 millon US dollar tobacco industry.

Dr. Ndyanabangi said that the Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), the Tobacco advocates legal arm is to first write a legal opinion to the Executive Director of  UFZA Richard Jabo, interesting him on how he awarded the land illegal since his action contravenes the Tobacco Control Act 2015 which prohibits any public servant from conniving with people in the tobacco industry or giving or receiving any incentive from the tobacco industry.

“Uganda free zone authority’ agreement with that tobacco company is null and void whether they did it knowingly or ignorantly. We shall first write a legal opinion to them, instructing them to withdraw the contract in addition to publishing it in press and once they fail to comply then we shall have no option other than prosecuting the Executive director individually since the law criminalize the organisation head not the organisation ” Said Ndyanabangi.

It should be noted that UFZA has been added to Ministry of trade, industries and cooperatives which also contravened the same act by declaring 2017 a tobacco growing year.

Tobacco control advocates emphasis that in case the two fail to abide by their legal opinions, they will be no other option other than prosecuting them.

The Tobacco control act 2015 was assented to by president Yoweri Kagutta Museveni on the 19th of  August 2015 and came into force on the 19 may of 2016 but it was given a grace period of one year to be fully implemented, which ended on 18th May 2017.

The act banned favored tobacco like Shisha, kuber and electronic cigarette, bans smoking in public places, advertising of tobacco products, refrains any public official from dealing in whatever way with the tobacco industry and once found guilty is liable to a fine of not less than one million shillings,  imprisonment not less than a year or serve both punishments.

The warning comes at a time when over 180 countries globally have adopted a similar law and when preparations for Uganda to join the rest of the world in commemoration of the world no tobacco day due every 31 of May are in high gear with this year’s theme being Tobacco affecting development.

BAT Uganda loses court case as the TC Act 2015 becomes fully operational

Title: BAT Uganda loses court case as the TC Act 2015 becomes fully operational

Following a petition filed by BAT Uganda seeking a temporary injunction on the implementation of tobacco control act 2015, the Constitutional Court has dismissed the application saying that the injunction has no justifiable grounds. The ruling was made on May 18, 2017, a day before the TC Act fully becomes operational.


Source: BAT Uganda loses court case as the TC Act 2015 becomes fully operational

BAT Uganda sues Uganda Government over the Tobacco Control Act, 2015

Title: BAT Uganda sues Uganda Government over the Tobacco Control Act, 2015

Kampala, May 10, 2017 

The Constitutional Court in Kampala today heard a petition filed by BAT Uganda against the Government of Uganda challenging the constitutionality of the Tobacco Control Act 2015. Court also heard another plea by BAT Uganda seeking a temporary injunction on the implementation of tobacco control activities, pending disposal of the petition.  


Source: BAT Uganda sues Uganda Government over the Tobacco Control Act, 2015

Drs. Mamudu and Pack Funded for Tobacco/Tuberculosis Project in Uganda

Title: Drs. Mamudu and Pack Funded for Tobacco/Tuberculosis Project in Uganda

Dr. Hadii Mamudu, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Services Management and Policy and Dr. Robert Pack, Professor and Associate Dean in the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health, have been awarded a Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) grant by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Academy of Sciences, a private non-profit organization of the country’s leading researchers. Read More 


Source: Drs. Mamudu and Pack Funded for Tobacco/Tuberculosis Project in Uganda

MakSPH-CTCA yet in another novel research project

Title: MakSPH-CTCA yet in another novel research project

A novel research project on integrating tobacco cessation into TB programs using mHealth approach has been inaugurated by MakSPH, CTCA and Ministry of Health Uganda with the aim of improving TB treatment outcomes and increasing quit rates among TB patients in Uganda.  The research project code named mHealth for TB Tobacco: An Approach to reduce tobacco use among TB patients.


Source: MakSPH-CTCA yet in another novel research project

Uganda Police Confiscates Tobacco Banned Products and Arrests Users

After undergoing Tobacco Control Law Implementation training, Uganda Police has been carrying out raids in public places where banned products like Shisha are being sold and used.

Tobacco Control Law training for Uganda Police.

On Friday evening from 7pm to 1am Uganda Police Force took out an operation against ignore tobacco product in the Kampala Center region.
Place like Arua park had 7 people arrested and a number of shisha pots confiscated, while Shade Bar and Restaurant had all it’s shisha users arrested. Laftaz Comedy Lounge in Centenary Park had its 41 shisha pots impounded, and Kyoto Turkish Restaurant & Bar also in Centenary Park had 34 pots and delivery systems confiscated by the police.
Zone7 in Bugolobi was the only one found with no banned products like shisha but Mugiez Corporate Zone Reloaded or Mugiez Corporate ZONE, shisha pots and their delivery systems were hidden and out of use. The manager of the bar said that they had stopped selling shisha and kept the pots after they had about the arrests. He lead the Police DPC heading the operation to the story where they were hidden. There were 7 pots and their delivery systems, which the police confiscated.

This was the third raid by police implementing the Tobacco Control Law. The first one was in Mukono town, second on Acacia Avenue.
The DPC commented and said that some entertainment places in Kampala central were no longer dealing in shisha, and this is a great thing because people are promoting and implementing the Tobacco Control Law.

Mauritania Legislators commit to passing a comprehensive tobacco control law

Title: Mauritania Legislators commit to passing a comprehensive tobacco control law

Nouakchott; March, 24, 2017

Members of Parliament in Mauritania are convening in the capital of Nouakchott to review the country’s tobacco control status and discuss strategies for controlling the effects of tobacco use. 

In an advocacy meeting by CTCA, the members were informed that passing a comprehensive tobacco control legislation provides a conducive framework for implementing all the proven interventions, thus making it a critical step. 


Source: Mauritania Legislators commit to passing a comprehensive tobacco control law

Why the adult age under tobacco control is 21 years

By Elsa Zawedde
Back Ground
The Tobacco Control ACT defines a child as a person under the age of 21 years. The significance of this definition is that any person deemed a child is prohibited from growing, selling, harvesting and manufacturing or being involved in the chain of growth and the consumption of tobacco related products. This difference from the standard set by the Constitution and other laws is the basis of the article.
Standard definition of a child in the law
The standard in Uganda’s legislation seems to be uniform as the majority of the laws ascribe to a child being one below the age of 18. The standard is set by Article 257(c) of the 1995 Constitution Uganda that defines a child as a person below the age of 18 years.  The Children’s Act Cap 59, The Contracts Act 2010 and the Employment Act under their Sections 2 respectively take the position that a child is one below the age of 18 years. Considering the established standard in the Constitution, as the Supreme Law of Uganda all other laws should be brought in conformity with the Constitution as stated in Article 2 of the Constitution. This means that the Tobacco control Act would ordinarily ascribe to the definition of a child as one below the age of 18 years. Therefore, as far as the Ugandan legislations are concerned they seem to saliently recognize a child as one below the age of 18 years not withstanding minor adjustments made when it comes to child being employed under Article 34(3) of the Constitution provides for Children being one below the age of 16.
It would be inept to look at the child and tobacco without having the benefit of the International standard of the definition of a child. The Convention on the Rights of the Child  (here in after referred to as CRC) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1990 and it defines a child under Article 1 as person who is below the age of 18 years.
Protection accorded to children in other laws
As practice has been in Uganda’s previous legislation “children” have been prohibited from engaging in the consumption of particularly harmful products to health. Pursuant to Sections 19(1) and Section 9 of The Liquor Act Cap 93, they restrict the participation of a person below the age of 18 years in engaging himself in distribution, supervision, selling and buying of intoxicating liquor, beer and Enguuli as stated there in.
The standard Parliament and the Legislators follow when deciding matters that have a bearing on children is the best interests of the Child. At the national level Article 34(1) of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Children’s Act Cap 59 articulates this clearly by stating that the guiding principles for decisions concerning the welfare of children are that the best interests of the child shall be considered in matters of policy.
Like the principles stated in the Constitution and Children’s Act, Article 3 of the CRC, makes providence of the best interests of the child as the basis for which institutions, authorities and legislative authorities will premise as they handle matters concerning the child. Article 4 of the CRC provides that states shall apply administrative and legislative measures to protect the child’s interests. It is under this premise that the Tobacco control Act is subject to the standard of the best interests of the child.
Justification for the Protection in the Tobacco Control Act
Before scrutinizing whether the minimum age of 21 is justifiable for consumption of Tobacco related products. It is important to note that because of the enormous potential harm of tobacco to children from its use and mere exposure, states have to undertake, a duty to take all necessary legislative and regulatory measures to protect the interests of the child. In a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2001 by Safir Syed ;
Around 4 million people die prematurely from tobacco related illnesses each year, with the death toll expected to rise each year to 10 million people by 2030. Many of tobacco’s future victims are today’s children because it begins during adolescence and continues through adulthood… If current trends continue, 250 million children alive today will be killed by tobacco… Estimates are made that 700 million, or almost a half of the world children, breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke.
If the statistics by WHO are anything to go by Tobacco is a uniquely dangerous drug that should not be treated as a normal consumer good. This justifies the stringent measures on age than the other existing law.
Considering the fact that Tobacco is a uniquely dangerous drug that should not be treated as a normal consumer good, the requirements under the Constitution, Children’s Act and the Convention on The Right of the Child the premise that the best interests of the child should be the corner stone of any decision is upheld in the Tobacco Control Act.
Michael Bloomberg the Mayor of New York who has led the campaign to prohibit the use of tobacco related products in New York, stated  “21 is the right age limit by which one can take cigarettes because this would discourage people from being addicted In the first place since the earlier the people smoke, the more prone they are to get addicted.”(As reported by the New York Times, 30/09/2014)
A Child being described as a person below the age of 21 years for the purposes of the Tobacco Control Act is therefore reasonable and demonstrably justifiable. Unlike other commodities like Intoxicating liquor, tobacco’s addictive nature as a substance is dangerous to the young people, and the less exposure guaranteed by legislation in prohibiting the engagement in any tobacco related activities to persons below the age of 21 is a reasonable caution that will leaves our country more healthier with a more promising future.
One cannot over emphasize the need for conformity with the Constitution, however meticulous attention ought to be given to the unique nature of tobacco as a harmful substance. Therefore in acutely striking a balance between the health threat that tobacco is to our Country and the standard of who a child is in Article 257(c) of the Constitution: I appreciate the drafters of the Tobacco Control Act for the unique protection accorded to children through defining a child as a person below the age of 21 years for the purposes of Tobacco consumption and the Tobacco Control Act.

Steering Committee unanimously endorses the Centre’s repositioning 

Title: Steering Committee unanimously endorses the Centre’s repositioning 

The Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa has been hailed for coming up with a great repositioning concept that will steer the Centre to great strides in addressing the TC changing needs of Africa. This was during the Phase II 3rd sitting of the Steering Committee at the Lake Victoria Serena Hotel, in Kigo, near Kampala, February 27-28, 2017.  The Committee chaired by Makerere’s University Deputy Vice Chancellor, Finance and Administration Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe unanimously endorsed the recommendations of the recently concluded CTCA regional meeting that included the Centre’s repositioning. They noted that this is a wise idea that will transform the Centre into a ‘go to’ in response to the different needs of Africa, considering that countries are at varrying stages of implementation. 


Source: Steering Committee unanimously endorses the Centre’s repositioning 

What does the recent ruling on tobacco control regulations mean for the fight against NCDs in Kenya?

Kenya is currently celebrating 10 years since the enactment of the Tobacco Control Act 2007, developed following Kenya’s ratification of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004 (link is external). Although the Act has been operational since 2007, full realisation of the gains intended has been elusive due to delays in implementing its associated regulations. The Tobacco Control Regulations 2007 are meant to be subsidiary laws intended to put into effect specific provisions of the Tobacco Control Act 2007 – but the tobacco industry have consistently fought legislation, realising that the regulations would ultimately impact on sales of their health harming products.

Tobacco in Kenya – what’s the problem?

Tobacco is the most preventable cause of death globally and has been singled out as one of the major risk factors for Non-Communicable Diseases (link is external) (NCDs). Owing to this, a global NCDs agenda of reducing up to 30% of prevalence of tobacco use from people 15+ years by 2030 was set within the Sustainable Development Goals (link is external). According to Kenya STEPwise, a survey conducted in 2015 to collect information on the risk factors for NCDs, it is estimated that up to thirteen percent (13%) of Kenyans currently use some form of tobacco products (link is external). About ten percent (10.1%) of this population uses smoked tobacco products such as cigarettes, pipes and shisha, while the remaining three percent (3%) use smokeless tobacco.
Furthermore, it is estimated that nearly twenty-one percent (20.9%) of Kenyans are exposed to second hand smoke at home and work. These are indeed alarming statistics given the disturbing burden of NCDs in Kenya. On Thursday January 5, 2017, The Acting Director of World Health Organization’s (WHO) NCD cluster, and WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti decried the increasing burden of NCDs in Africa stating that heavy reliance on tobacco use was among the major causes of the rising NCDs and related deaths in the continent (link is external).

Kenyan Tobacco Control Regulations: a major boost in the fight against NCDs

The Tobacco Control Regulations 2014, give a greenlight to regulation of packaging and labelling of tobacco products manufactured locally or imported. Tobacco companies in Kenya are mandated by the regulations to print pictorial health warnings (PHWs) on both sides of their cigarette packs. Having explicit graphical/ pictorial health warnings depicting health effects of tobacco use have been lauded (link is external) as an effective way of encouraging tobacco smokers to quit smoking and discouraging others from starting the habit.
Involuntary exposure to second hand tobacco smoke is also a major concern to the fight against NCDs. With nearly twenty one percent of Kenyans involuntarily exposed to second hand tobacco smoke, there has been a sharp rise of NCDs among children, people living with disability and those living with AIDS. Effective implementation and enforcement of the Tobacco Control Regulations will protect the general public against exposure to second hand tobacco smoke in public places, and distinct private places where children and other vulnerable people could be exposed to tobacco smoke.

NCDs must be taken seriously and resourced sufficiently to maintain momentum

Incapacitation in the fight against NCDs in Kenya and in Africa has largely been attributed to low prioritisation of NCDs within the national agenda. This has in turn affected how resources are being allocated to NCD programs in Kenya, as well as the rest of the continent.
The Tobacco Control Regulations 2014, shine some rays of hope. In a quest to curb the rising negative health effects of tobacco use, these regulations have strongly highlighted provisions for the tobacco companies to justifiably take on the responsibility of dealing with these effects and costs to society. The regulations outline strong provisions for the tobacco companies to mandatorily contribute annually to the Tobacco Control Fund (TCF), through which the Ministry of Health is able to set up structures to support cessation programs, as well as conducting research especially on chronic conditions resulting from heavy reliance on tobacco use.

The tobacco industry – implicated in disease and death, but still fighting for their own survival

The tobacco industry sees the regulations as a threat to their business and income streams, which have increasingly focused on growing markets in Africa. Since before the implementation of the Tobacco Control Act of 2007, the industry has fought legislation in court, a test of our government’s financial resources, commitment to health, and resilience.
On Friday February 17, 2017 a major ruling was made by the Kenya’s Court of Appeal upholding the Tobacco Control Regulations 2007 and disqualifying an appeal case lodged by British American Tobacco (BAT) and Mastermind Tobacco Kenya Limited. Earlier BAT had prevented the Tobacco Control Regulations 2014 from coming into effect in June 2015 through a legal process at the High Court challenging the constitutionality of the regulations. In March 2016, the High Court made a judgement in favour of the regulations which BAT opted to appeal, faulting the judgement by the High Court. They just would not sit back and accept the rule of court, and health advocates again ramped up in efforts to resist the appeal and ensure that the right to health was protected.

The fight against tobacco and NCDs can’t stop with this latest ruling – there’s much to be done

For all these gains to be enjoyed, there needs to be

  1. Political goodwill to fully implement general tobacco control policies in Kenya;
  2. Unwavering commitment by people charged with the responsibilities of overseeing compliance and enforcing the regulations; and
  3. Consistent monitoring and reporting structures on the achievements made in the implementation and enforcement of the regulations.

We hope that BAT’s appeal was the industry’s final assault on regulations designed to align with the FCTC, and in doing so protect the health of Kenyans today and into the future. We recognise the determination of the tobacco industry to disrupt and interfere using any means to protect their business. We stand vigilant to hold them at bay, and support the government and health sector in efforts to prevent tobacco related harm in Kenya. We also hope that our story inspires other governments and health advocates taking on the tobacco industry in court – it can be done, indeed – it must.
 

About the Author

Achieng Otieno (@sachieng (link is external)) is Communication and Digital Advocate for Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA) (link is external) (@KETCA1 (link is external)). KETCA is a not-for-profit organisation that brings together civil society organisations advocating for tobacco control in Kenya. KETCA is a member of the NCD Alliance in Kenya (NCDAK).(link is external) The victory over BAT and Mastermind Tobacco were a result of collaborative effort from various stakeholders within the country and beyond, and for that KETCA expresses appreciation to supporters.