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.

Tobacco Control Radio Messages

More important to us than anything is that you not only hear about the Tobacco Control Act, but also understand it from us and not the law enforcers when enforcement begins. So in a bid to achieve this, we’ve gone ahead to break it down for the public in all forms. Several workshops, public dialogues and most recently, radio ads and bill boards.
So in the next few days while you listen to your radio or walk/drive around in your neighborhood, you’ll hear and read vital information about the law. From the complete ban on hookah/shisha, to the 50 meter requirement for every smoker, you’ll know about it all.
Interestingly for the radio listeners, you can also win airtime from us! All you have to do is to listen to the radio stations in your region during the day and relay to us the message you hear about us. You can tell us on either our Facebook page( TobaccoControlUg) or on twitter, ( @TobaccoCtrlUg). Happy winning!

Government of Gabon adopts five tobacco control decrees

Title: Government of Gabon adopts five tobacco control decrees

The Government of Gabon has adopted five decrees in support of tobacco control. The decrees adopted in April 2016 are aimed at providing a legal framework for the effective implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, (FCTC).   The decrees cover the following FCTC components;    


Source: Government of Gabon adopts five tobacco control decrees

CTCA and IDRC urged to develop a bigger community of tobacco control researchers in Africa

Title: CTCA and IDRC urged to develop a bigger community of tobacco control researchers in Africa

Researchers in tobacco control have been advised to always add an economic angle to their findings so as to make the research outcomes more appealing to policy makers.  This was one of the key observations during the annual dissemination workshop for research findings by the Second Cohort of tobacco control Grant beneficiaries from the CTCA-IDRC Masters Scholarship program.  The Dissemination held at the Kabira Country Club Hotel in Kampala from July 12-13, is attended by both students of the 2nd and third cohort, mentors, coordinators and supervisors of the students. 


Source: CTCA and IDRC urged to develop a bigger community of tobacco control researchers in Africa

CTCA undertakes an assessment for implementing Alternative Livelihoods in Kenya

Title: CTCA undertakes an assessment for implementing Alternative Livelihoods in Kenya

Nairobi: July 7, 2016- 

The Government of Kenya has expressed commitment to work with CTCA to facilitate tobacco farmers to transit from tobacco growing to other economically viable alternatives.  This revelation was made during a fact finding mission  jointly carried out by the CTCA and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Kenya  on the implementation of Article 17 and 18 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).  A series of consultative meetings are currently under way with the various key government stakeholders to establish the status of implementation for article 17 and 18, as well as the most appropriate strategies for implementing the same. 


Source: CTCA undertakes an assessment for implementing Alternative Livelihoods in Kenya

Francophone countries undertake training in Tobacco Industry Documents Research in Africa ( TIDRA)

Title: Francophone countries undertake training in Tobacco Industry Documents Research in Africa ( TIDRA)

A three day training  has been held Dhaka, Senegal, to equip tobacco control actors with techniques to effectively search, use and disseminate tobacco industry information to mitigate tobacco industry policy interference in the Africa.  The training on Tobacco Industry Documents Research in Africa ( TIDRA) was conducted by CTCA in partnership with Dr. Marty Otañez  of the University of Colorado Denver, from June 7-9, 2016. It was attended by  actors from three  Francophone countries of Mauritania, Gabon and Senegal the host. 


Source: Francophone countries undertake training in Tobacco Industry Documents Research in Africa ( TIDRA)

ACBF Executive Secretary Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie emphasizes the need for capacity development for tobacco control leadership

 
The  Executive Secretary ( ES) of The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), Zimbabwe, Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie this morning paid a courtesy call to the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa ( CTCA)  at Centre’s premises in Kasangati, near Kampala. The ES was received by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Finance and Administration, Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, who is also the chairperson of the CTCA Steering Committee.
In his welcome remarks, Prof. Nawangwe thanked ACBF for the support rendered to the Centre. He reiterated Makerere University’s commitment to ensuring that the Centre benefits the whole of Africa by supporting governments to implement evidence based tobacco control strategies.
Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie stressed the need for strengthening capacity development for tobacco control leadership as a strategy to generate the much required political will to move the tobacco control agenda.  He said tobacco use is a growing challenge affecting many Africans and yet still has a lot of capacity gaps that required concerted efforts to address.
The Acting Centre Manager, Ms. Jennifer Kalule highlighted some of the achievements that the Centre has attained during the phase II implementation that is supported through ACBF.
Source: ACBF Executive Secretary Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie emphasizes the need for capacity development for tobacco control leadership
 

CTCA urges capacity development stakeholders to invest in tobacco control capacity to curb the tobacco epidemic

 
Stakeholders attending the 3rd Pan-African Capacity Development Forum ( ACDF) in Harare, Zimbabwe have been cautioned to invest in capacity for tobacco control as one of the priorities for the social economic transformation for Africa.
This was during aside event organized by the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa  ( CTCA), May 4th, during the 3rd ACDF that also marked ACBF’s silver anniversary.  The session was moderated by Dr. Roger Atindehou, the Manager Operations at the ACBF.
Presenting a paper on ‘Investing in Tobacco Control capacity for Africa, the Centre Director also Dean of the School of Public Health, Prof. William Bazeyo warned that  Africa is poised to become the future epi-centre of the tobacco epidemic if nothing is done to invest tobacco control capacity.  He stressed that with the high burden of communicable diseases that Africa is faced with, lack of control of the non-communicable diseases, to which tobacco is a key risk factor, would water down the efforts in the communicable diseases and lead to a double tragedy.
Prof. Bazeyo revealed that although Africa is at the early stages of the tobacco epidemic,
researchers estimate that if African countries put appropriate policies in place, the region could avoid 139 million premature deaths by 2100. This he emphasised, can best be achieved through investing in tobacco control capacity.
Mr. Deowan Mohee from ATCA who was one of the panelists said one of the biggest capacity gaps for tobacco control in Africa is the dependency of donor funding which he said may not always respond to the real needs of the African continent. He urged partners to invest in building capacity for resource mobilization for tobacco control  as a strategy for attaining a tobacco free Africa.
Ms. Ema Wanyonyi from Kenya’s International Legislative Association ( ILA) emphasized the need for mainstreaming tobacco control in other public health programs adding that tobacco being a cross cutting factor needs concerted efforts to minimize its effects.
The stakeholders who attended the side event in big numbers stressed the need to control the activities of the tobacco industry and to empower governments to implement both demand and supply reduction interventions identified by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).   Participants specifically cited the need for countries to build capacity to control illicit trade of tobacco products as well as capacity to support countries develop and implement alternative livelihood policies for tobacco farmers. Tobacco taxation was also discussed a key measure that countries need to adopt it not only reduces consumption, but also enables governments to get the much needed money to treat tobacco related illnesses and diseases.
Source: CTCA urges capacity development stakeholders to invest in tobacco control capacity to curb the tobacco epidemic
 

National Tobacco Control Focal Persons hailed for their commitment to tobacco control

Title: National Tobacco Control Focal Persons hailed for their commitment to tobacco control

December 10, 2015-

The Dean School of Public Health and CTCA Director, Prof William Bazeyo has called on Tobacco Control Focal Persons in CTCA’s target countries to be more vigilant in guarding public health policies against Tobacco Industry Interference. The Dean was this morning officiating at the opening of a two day planning retreat for National Tobacco Control Focal Persons of CTCA’s target countries for Phase II. The meeting held at the Lake Victoria Serena Hotel in Kigo is attended by National Tobacco Control Focal Person from four of the five CTCA target countries including Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, and Niger. 


Source: National Tobacco Control Focal Persons hailed for their commitment to tobacco control