4 March 2009

Uganda: Tough Anti-Tobacco Law in Offing

Kampala — THE Government is preparing a tougher law to control tobacco use.

The law, which is to be tabled in Parliament, requires dealers in tobacco products to have licences.

It will also halt all advertising of tobacco in the media, and its sale in small quantities.

The regulation will also stop the sale and smoking of tobacco in public places.

The proposed law was the centre of discussion on Tuesday during the Uganda Health Communication Alliance workshop in Kampala.

The dialogue was attended by medical doctors, journalists and health activists.

According to the Tobacco Bill 2009, anyone dealing in tobacco products will be required to apply for the licence within a year from the date of commencement.

"A tobacco product shall not be sold in single units, and every sale shall be by package containing not less than 20 units of the products," the law says.

Everyone has a right to a clean and healthy environment and a right to be protected from exposure to tobacco smoke, it adds.

In March 2004, the Government banned smoking in public places.

The then water, lands and environment minister, Kahinda Otafiire, ordered the ban, to take immediate effect.

The minister defined public places as "anywhere where people converge and where there are non-smokers who do not want to inhale the smoke."

This came a day after Uganda signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004.

Uganda is under obligation to enact laws that domesticate the FCTC.

Tanzania and Kenya have already taken essential steps in creating and implementing their legislations.

Tobacco, according to the Uganda Heart Institute, is the leading cause of preventable death in the world, accounting for over 5.2 million deaths annually.

It is projected that the death toll from diseases caused by the use of tobacco will rise to 10 million per year, with 70 percent occurring in developing countries like Uganda.

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