Seven Billion Cigarettes Smoked Yearly

The Tobacco Control Bill sailed through the second reading with a revelation that a total of seven billion sticks of Cigarettes are smoked in the country in a ...

Nairobi

The law bans smoking for those under the age of 18

The Tobacco Control Bill sailed through the second reading with a revelation that a total of seven billion sticks of Cigarettes are smoked in the country in a year.

Health assistant minister Enock Kibunguchy gave the alarming statistics in the House as members pushed for the control of smoking and use of tobacco products.

"Kenyans smoke seven billion sticks of Cigarettes per year," he said.

The MPs finally passed the Bill at 6.23 pm with unanimous support from both sides of the House and it will go to the committee stage where its clauses will be scrutinized by members before deciding on its fate.

The Bill aims to establish a legal entity to regulate the growing, manufacture, sale, distribution, use and advertising of tobacco and its products.

It proposes setting up of a Tobacco Products Control Board to implement the measures provided in the Bill to protect the lives of Kenyans from smokers. Among those suggested to sit on the board are the director of medical services, chief public health officer and representative from the Kenya Medical Association (KMA), and Attorney general among others.

The interests of the cigarette makers will be represented by the Kenya Manufacturers Association who will sit on the board. MPs argued that it would be self defeating to allow tobacco firms to sit on the board that controls their operations.

The Bill gives the Health minister powers to state penalties, in consultation with the board, for people who will go against the stipulations of the guidelines on smoking.

The proposed law bans smoking for those under the age of 18 years and prescribes penalties for shopkeepers who sell Cigarettes to them. Parents will also be barRed from sending their children to the shops to buy Cigarettes for them.

It also requires that Ministry of Health messages such as "Smoking Kills" are displayed boldly on each cigarette stick and packet. Advertising the products will also be regulated.

But where it is not stated, the penalties could be as higher as Sh500,000 or a three-year jail term. 
Cabinet ministers Martha Karua, Mutua Katuku, assistant minister Katoo ole Metito and MPs Gor Sunguh (Kisumu Town East, Narc), Raila Odinga (Langata, Narc), Hezron Manduku (Nyaribari Masaba, Narc) Ochillo Ayacko (Rongo, Narc), Davis Nakitare (Saboti, Narc), Naomi Shaaban (Taveta, Kanu) and Lucas Chepkitony (Keiyo North, Kanu) supported the Bill.

MPs spoke of the dangers of smoking, the burden on the country's budget, the manipulation of tobacco advertisements, its destruction of the soil and harmful effect to farmers.

It has taken almost six years to have the Bill debated in the House and when Dr Kibunguchy moved the Government sponsoRed Bill on Wednesday, he urged the House to be prepaRed to walk a tight rope


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