Tobacco firms enter more restricted smoking zones
Posted Tuesday, November 23 2010 at 00:00
Tobacco firms are braced for a tougher operating regime in Kenya after the country joined delegates from other regions in endorsing stringent anti-smoking rules at a UN meeting in Uruguay.
The new measures reached last week by the 171 signatories to the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) after a week-long meeting that ended on Saturday.
The steps are aimed at cutting the use of tobacco worldwide.
The countries approved the tough guidelines fronted by Canada seeking to prohibit the manufacture and sale of cigarettes that contain flavourings and additives. These components are believed to enhance attractiveness of tobacco products among users.
At the meeting, parties to FCTC resolved to draft guidelines for implementation of price and taxation policy of tobacco products.
The WHO convention obligates signatory countries to gradually raise taxes and prices of tobacco products in a move that is calculated to put them beyond the reach of many users.
“In Kenya, taxes on cigarettes have remained static over the last two fiscal years in spite of being the first country in the region to ratify FCTC,” said Mr John Kimosop, the executive director of the Institute for Legislative Affairs.
Also facing targeted for crackdown in the invigorated international campaigns are smokeless tobacco products and cross-border advertisement.
Enforcement agencies have hailed the development.
“At enforcement division, the action taken by the UN delegates supports the language that we have been speaking all along; it gives us the legal backing to start enforcing it,” said Mr Kepha Ombacho, the chief public health officer at Public Health and Sanitation ministry told Business Daily.
In October last year, Canada introduced a clause in its tobacco control legislation that extends a ban on the manufacture and sale of blended cigarettes, saying the additives played a bigger role in attracting youths to smoking.
The clause bans the manufacture and sale of Burley, Oriental and Virginia brands in Canada, outlawing flavours that manufacturers see as their main revenue drivers.
The incorporation of the Canadian clause into the WHO’s programme means signatories have the obligation to ban import and use of flavoured cigarettes within their territories.
In the region, tobacco producers like Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Tanzania have strongly contested the new laws, saying their export destinations are likely to use it as a technical barrier to trade.