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