KCCA and Uganda Police Inspect Businesses in Kampala for compliance to The Tobacco Control Law

KCCA and Uganda Police Inspect Businesses in Kampala for compliance to The Tobacco Control Law

Tobacco Control advocate agency Uganda National Health Consumers’ Organisation (UNHCO) conducted spot on health inspections, audits and sensitization exercises of businesses and business areas in the Kampala divisions of Nakawa, Rubaga, Kawempe, Makindye and Central area to support enforcement of the Tobacco Control Act for compliance.

The Tobacco Control Act (2015) is a public health act that amply empowers all citizens of Uganda to enforce its declaration, including the total ban on shisha and the 50-metre rule. It has been completely enforceable since May 2017.

The Tobacco Control Act (2015) Section 16 places a TOTAL BAN on the importation, sell, offer for sale, or distribute of; Shisha (which is a flavoured water-pipe tobacco product) and/or shisha pots (which is a water-pipe delivery system). The penalty is a severe fine of not less than 20,000,000 UGX.

UNHCO worked with a team of government and civil society agencies including, Ministry of Health, Uganda Police Force (i.e.; CPS/Anti-Narcotics Department), Kampala City Council Authority, Ministry of Local Government, National Environment Management Authority and Uganda National Bureau of Standards.

During the inspection in the communities, traders were eager to listen closely to health and police inspectors, as they shared the details of the Tobacco Control Act.

And a way to ensure enforcement, there was a trader who was found illegally selling banned shisha products, who attempted to argue with the health and police inspectors claiming that he had legal paperwork permitting him to sell the illegal products.  On delivery of the papers, the agents from URA during the inspections proved that the forms provided were in contempt of the law. All business owners should know that SHISHA IS A BANNED TOBACCO PRODUCT.

It should be known by all business owners that SHISHA IS A BANNED TOBACCO PRODUCT in Uganda.

‘We are scared we will die soon’, Tobacco Workers.

‘We are scared we will die soon’, Tobacco Workers.

Folarin Jakanola died from a sickness he developed from the working environment he was exposed to while working with British-American Tobacco, Nigeria. “We were exposed to the same environment and we are going through serious health problems. We are scared we will die soon.”

“We were exposed to the same environment and we are going through serious health problems. We are scared we will die soon.”

Listen in to the below podcast for more information.

Why the adult age under tobacco control is 21 years

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.

Kenya’s Court of Appeal Rejects British American Tobacco Suit, Upholds Tobacco Control Regulations

Kenya’s Court of Appeal Rejects British American Tobacco Suit, Upholds Tobacco Control Regulations

Press Release by: Campaign For Tobacco Control Kids                                                                           February 17th, 2017

Kenya’s Court of Appeal in Nairobi today upheld the country’s 2014 Tobacco Control Regulations, affirming a lower court’s findings and rejecting legal challenges to the regulations from British American Tobacco (BAT) Kenya. The court’s decision is a resounding victory for public health and allows the government to move forward with implementing a law that will help protect Kenyans from the devastating consequences of tobacco use. As a party to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Kenya is legally obligated to implement evidence-based measures to reduce tobacco use.

Included in Kenya’s Tobacco Control Regulations are requirements for picture-based health warnings and strengthened protections against secondhand smoke. The regulations also require tobacco companies to pay an annual fee into a designated tobacco control fund to assist the government in paying for the harmful health effects of tobacco use for Kenyans.

Today’s ruling sends a strong message that BAT’s legal claims were without merit and that tobacco industry interference in laws to improve public health will not be tolerated. The ruling also has implications for other African countries where tobacco companies are interfering in efforts to pass and implement proven tobacco control policies. In Uganda, for example, BAT has also filed a legal challenge against a tobacco control law aimed at preventing and reducing tobacco use.

Kenya’s Court of Appeal ruling is yet another blow for BAT, a company currently under investigation in Kenya for the alleged bribery of government officials. A 2015 investigative report broadcast by the BBC disclosed extensive evidence, supported by previously secret documents, that BAT paid illegal bribes to influence members of parliament, gain advantage over competitors and undermine tobacco control policies in multiple African countries.

We congratulate the Government of Kenya for its resolve in standing up to Big Tobacco. Today’s decision sends an unequivocal message that African governments can and should move ahead with efforts to reduce tobacco use even in the face of legal challenges from tobacco companies. Around the world, the largest multinational tobacco companies are increasingly losing legal battles to block and delay tobacco control measures.

Tobacco use is the world’s leading cause of preventable death. Without urgent action, tobacco use will claim one billion lives this century.

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Shisha Arrests: Who Your Real Enemy Is

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.

 

Enforcement: Shisha Pots Impounded In Mukono

Enforcement: Shisha Pots Impounded In Mukono

The environmental police in Mukono on Saturday 10th December, 2016 took possession of 20 Shisha pots from a popular hangout, Casablanca Bar in a move to enforce the Tobacco Control Act that came into force early this year in May.

The officer in charge, Mr. Robert Wowuya was accompanied by Mr Moses Talibita, the legal officer of Uganda National Health Consumer’s Organisation and another officer who was wearing a sling on his arm. The officer, police say, had been injured the previous night in a scuffle with smokers from whom he sought to take shisha pots.

The Tobacco Control Act which came into force early this year in May has been highly publicized in media and through sensitization of the public by Tobacco Control activists. “Enforcement has began with Mukono, JInja and Kampala as pilot districts and come May 2017, we’ll have tackled implementation of the law in its entirety,” Talibita says.

It is important to note that whereas the law seeks to only control tobacco use in the interest of protecting the non-smokers health, some items including Shisha, Kuber and sweetened tobacco products are completely banned and their sale is thereby illegal.

Tobacco Industry attempts to interfere with the WHO FCTC Conference in India

Tobacco Industry attempts to interfere with the WHO FCTC Conference in India

The Tobacco Control Act, 2015 forbids tobacco industry interference in tobacco control efforts. . It was reported (The Daily Monitor November 4, 2016) that the Tobacco Industry had lobbied some Government Officials to nominate delegates who would represent the industry interests at the Seventh Session of the Conference of Parties (COP7) currently taking place  (7th to 12th November 2016) in India. This is  contrary to the overall objective of the Tobacco Control Act 2015, as well as the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). Lobbying Government officials is one of the documented strategies/tactics that the Tobacco industry uses  to subvert, undermine and derail  tobacco control efforts (WHO: 2009).

 

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the governing body of the WHO FCTC and is comprised of all Parties to the Convention. It keeps under regular review the implementation of the Convention and takes the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation. It is the most important global anti-tobacco conference, and holds regular sessions at two-year intervals under the auspices of the WHO FCTC Convention Secretariat. The main focus for this year’s session is the review of the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. Given its mandate, the tobacco industry and its allies MUST NOT in any way participate in this meeting as this would clearly be an act of interfering with the tobacco control policy formulation process.

 

The delegation of the Uganda Government at the COP 7, is headed by a team of Ministry of Health Officials.  As members of the tobacco control Forum/ Coordination Mechanism, we strongly condemn efforts by some government officials to connive with the tobacco industry to interfere with tobacco control policies even at the global level.

 

Contrary to the assertion by Tobacco Industry and its allies that tobacco growing is being banned, the Tobacco Control Act, 2015 does not ban tobacco growing in any way. The Government is working on implementing WHO FCTC article 17 & 18 through its National agriculture policy (NAP: 2013). The policy aims at promoting and providing alternative livelihoods for persons engaged in tobacco growing.

 

Uganda ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2007. As a party to this Public Health Treaty, Uganda is obligated to protect its public health policies with respect to tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry (Article 5.3 of WHO FCTC), including measures related to international cooperation on tobacco control. Section 7(1) of the Tobacco Control Act 2015 requires a Minister of Health to designate a person within the Ministry to be the National Focal Point Person for tobacco control whose duties and obligations are highlighted under subsection 5 of the Law. A wider interpretation of the section infers powers to nominate delegates to COP. Indeed the COP and WHO Secretariat require the Ministry of Health to nominate participants for this meeting The WHO FCTC encourages Governments to allow participation of Civil Society in tobacco control activities as stated by guiding principle 7 of the WHO FCTC including participation in COP.

 

Section 19 of the Act urges the Government to protect tobacco control policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry. This therefore means that the Act restricts Government officials from interacting, supporting, endorsing or accepting “any non-binding or non-enforceable agreement, agreement with the tobacco industry except for purposes of regulating and monitoring the tobacco industry or tobacco products and the interaction must be transparent”.

 

Participation of the tobacco industry and its allies in any activity furthering tobacco control, including FCTC Conference of Parties, is an attempt to promote tobacco industry interests at a global level and is forbidden under Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and our domestic law, given that the industry’s interests conflict with the overall public health goal.

 

With regard to tobacco control, the tobacco industry interests conflict with Government interests. Whereas, the interests of the industry is to maximize profits from toxic tobacco products, Government interests remain to reduce consumption of tobacco to protect people’s health from devastating health effects.

 

We therefore, urge all Government officials to abide by the Tobacco Control Act, 2015 and desist from getting involved into tobacco industry efforts to derail tobacco control efforts. There is no excuse whatsoever that justifies undermining domestic laws including the Tobacco Control Act, 2015 which was enacted to protect the health and lives of Ugandans.

Tobacco Control Act: See Who’s Demanding Implementation?

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

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

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!