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.

Shisha Arrests: Who Your Real Enemy Is

In light of the 30 arrests made by the Uganda Police in a bid to enforce the Tobacco Control Law, there has been a lot of reactions. Many were positive and receptive towards the move but also several were non receptive at worst and angry at best.
The angry reactions are directed to the Tobacco Control Campaign and the police. From a notorious bar owner who threatened the team that had accompanied the Police, to Shisha users online who have sworn to fight enforcement and keep up the habit. These, even after late last year,authorities confiscated Shisha pots in Mukono District and warned the public of Shisha’s illegality.
Whereas the thought of being arrested or risking arrest is indeed uncomfortable, the public should make an effort to abide by laws generally but also, and perhaps more importantly, a public health law. If not for anything else, then ofr the good of their health.
The World Health Organisation warned that a one-hour shisha session is as harmful as smoking 100 cigarettes. While a cigarette smoker most likely takes between 8 and 12 puffs, an hour-long shisha session smoker may take up to 200 drags; inhaling way more smoke and other harmful chemicals in tobacco; nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide, ammonia- a gas whose inhalation causes poisoning, hydrogen cyanide- a fumigation chemical, arsenic- used in insecticides, and DDT inclusive.
Now you might be angry at the law and its enforcers now, but the Tobacco Control law provision that bans the sale and consumption of Shisha is an ally in the long run. With our country’s health sector already struggling with inadequate facilities and drugs for treatment, the last thing you want is to end up with a health condition from your habit, one that you could have avoided. The real enemy here is Shisha/Hookah and Tobacco.
 

Tobacco Control Act: See Who's Demanding Implementation?

The Uganda Tobacco Control Act came into force on 19th May, 2016. Since then, there has been mass sensitization in billboards, radio shows, newspaper articles and social media campaigns. Implementation of this law however requires the Ministry of Health to write regulations upon which enforcement is to be based. Tobacco Control Ug
In the meantime, many bars in Kampala and its surburbs continue to sell “Shisha,” a popular among young people, water pipe tobacco whose sell, distribution and therefore consumption are completely banned in the Tobacco Control Act.
Tobacco Control Ug
Godfrey Kutesa has the past week taken matters into his hands, so to say. This young man and several of his friends took to the streets and city roundabouts holding placards of messages about tobacco use; also on placards were messages demanding that the law be implemented to save lives. They have gone ahead to visit some schools to speak about the dangers of tobacco. At City High School’s assembly yesterday, they encouraged students to be responsible for their own lives and stay away from cigarettes and shisha which have negative health implications like lung cancer on users.  Tobacco Control UG

Mayor Pledges Support for Tobacco Control Campaign

On Tuesday, 4th October 2016, tobacco control stakeholders met for an orientation meeting with major enforcers including the Uganda Police, Uganda Revenue Authority and city authorities.

#TobaccoFreeUg
Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi delivering presentation on tobacco dangers

#TobaccoFreeUg
Enforcement was the major discussion point of this meeting. The Director of Public Health, Kampala City Council Authority was tasked to initiate enforcement as an authority who had available resources for the task. A representative of hotel owners who was also present agreed to do their part in enforcement starting with putting up smoke free signs.
#TobaccoFreeUg    #TobaccoFreeUg
Mayor of Kampala City delivered insightful remarks, there was a unanimous agreement to focus on enforcement. The Mayor who noted the laxity in taking the right to a smoke free environment seriously pledged his full support to the health cause.

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!

Death By Not Smoking

A recent Ministry Of Health survey shows that 13,000 Ugandans die of tobacco related diseases every year- but here’s is what is even more shocking, the same survey shows that half of these people are non-smokers. (do not use tobacco) Yes, about 600 Ugandans who do not use tobacco die of tobacco related diseases.
While that sinks in, you might want to remember the Clause 12 of the Tobacco Control Act specifies that “A person shall not smoke within 50 meters of any public place…” Many smokers have expressed their dissatisfaction with clause and found it, “harsh,” but is it really harsh when it aims at protecting another life? Or is it we’re used to our freedom to violate other people’s rights as long as we’re doing what we want?
Take for example, when a smoker travels by plane to another country, they are restricted from smoking on the plane. It could be for 4, 6 or even 12 hours, in which time they abide by the restriction. Why then, would it be in this case considered harsh to just smoke at a safe distance away from other people? The law is not harsh, it does not take away the right of the smoker: it only requires that the health of others be respected and preserved.
We can all exercise our rights while respecting others’ rights too.
 

#WorldBreastfeedingMonth: Why Tobacco Is Bad News For Breastfeeding Mothers

Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco may reduce your milk production and inhibit the let-down reflex. It also may make your baby fussy or irritable. Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for many problems, including ear infections, asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). You should not smoke or be around those who do while you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Illegal drugs can be passed to a baby in some amount through the breast milk. Drug use can cause poor milk let-down in the mother and a lack of energy, intoxication, hyperactivity, addiction, or other health problems in the infant. Drugs can also get in the way of a mom’s ability to care for her child.

#TBT: A Research Fellow's Plea To Speaker To Pass Tobacco Control Bill

Although tobacco control has largely been constructed as a public health matter, research we conducted in Uganda last year shows that tobacco use is also solidly a poverty issue. Ugandans in the two lowest income groups have higher tobacco use rates than those in higher income groups even when they can afford it the least.
We analysed two combined Uganda household expenditure data sets of 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 and asked a basic question. How much do poor households in Uganda spend on tobacco per week and what could this money potentially buy the household? We then looked at the prices of commodities in the Uganda Consumer Price Index of June 2010 and the potential purchases of selected alternative items with regard to food, health and education.
We found that money Ugandan households spent on tobacco every week could have bought eight litres of fresh milk or two loaves of bread. Studies done in Bangladesh show that households which spend on tobacco suffer more malnutrition than those which don’t. In the case of Uganda, we found that households’ weekly expenditure on tobacco was equivalent to the price of three and a half kilogrammes of maize flour during the same period.
The results also showed that money spent by a parent on tobacco could buy their children a set of primary school exercise books or 21 ball-point pens.
Read Full Article Here: