The Kenya Association of Manufacturers has warned against full implementation of the world Health Organisation's recommendations on tobacco control in the region.
The recommendations made in the framework convention on tobacco control (FCTC) policy document seek to increase taxation on tobacco products by the WHO member countries.
It is also pushing to gradually reduce tobacco growing by slapping tobacco products with a 70 per cent taxation bill. "Such proposals must be ventilated because tobacco growing represents an important economic activity in Kenya and indeed, other African countries," KAM CEO Betty Maina said at a recent forum on tobacco production in the region.
Maina noted that the tobacco industry has played a key role in job creation and that any plan towards controlling its sale and distribution must be restrained and administered according to individual country laws. Although FCTC has been pushing for a gradual migration of farmers from tobacco as a cash crop, KAM fears that such a plot will increase the poverty levels among the regions growing the crop.
According to the local manufacturer's lobby group, the move would adversely impact the 40,000 farmers in Kenya and more than 1.5 million tobacco farmers in other EAC and COMESA countries like Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania.