You Can’t Buy One Cigarette Stick – Only Packets – Uganda

The 2014 Tobacco Control Bill has become one of the highly controversial Bills submitted to Parliament of Uganda, on 28th July and passed which is awaiting the consent of the President.

This Bill which was first presented in Parliament in March 2014 by Chris Baryomunsi as a Private Member Bill was referred to the Committee on Health fur further scrutiny and consultations with stakeholders.

It was then presented to the House for the second reading in July 2014 by a new mover, Rosemary Nyakikongoro and it became law after a prolonged debate in Parliament. 

According to the Chairperson of the Committee of Parliament on Health, Dr. Medard Bitekyerezo, this tobacco control law is intended to discourage young people from using tobacco products.

“The law has a number of objectives. One of them is to protect young people from the effects of tobacco and also to protect non-smokers from the effects of secondhand smoke.”

Dr. Sheila Ndyanabandi, the Principal Medical Officer in charge of Mental Health & Control of Substance Abuse at the Ministry of Health, says that this law comes after the failure of the National Environment Regulations 2004, to prevent people from the effects of secondhand smoke.

She added, “The only law we had against public smoking and even after its passing was an environmental law. But it was just shelved and was never implemented, because there was no environmental police to do the implementation. 

Secondly it was not comprehensive as it was introduced before the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of the WHO. Thus it lacked many aspects. But this new law is very comprehensive.”
The new law recommends 100 percent smoke-free environments and it does not permit smoking within 50 meters from a public place.

The Article 10 of the Bill reads that “Every person has a right to a tobacco smoke-free environment. A person consuming a tobacco product shall ensure that he or she does not expose another person to tobacco smoke.”

As prescribed in the second schedule to this Act, a person shall not smoke in any part of any public place, workplace, or in any means of public transport.

The law also puts a total ban on the display of cigarettes at the point of sale and on advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco. Article 13(2a) explains, “A person shall not initiate any tobacco advertising, promotion, or sponsorship, including cross-border tobacco advertising, promotion or sponsorship.”

It also put a ban on the sale of cigarettes in public places like cinemas, educational institutions, public transport, health facilities, among others.

The law goes on to state that there should be no sale of cigarettes to and by minors, where a minor is anyone below the age of 21 years. It therefore makes it criminal to buy a stick of cigarette as the law says it should be bought in a packet. This is intended to make it hard for children to access or afford it. It is also now illegal for a person below the age of 21 to access cigarettes. The law also bans the sale of duty free tobacco products.

It also prohibits the sale of shisha, electronic cigarettes, and chewable tobacco. It also incorporates Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC which completely safeguards public health from interference by the Tobacco Industry. It also demands 65 per cent pictorial health warnings of every tobacco packaging.

– Asian Tribune –

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