Minister blames tobacco laws delay on powerful lobbyists

Powerful individuals are working behind the scenes to delay enforcement of the stringent tobacco laws that were to take effect from June 5, Health secretary James Macharia has said.

The new laws will compel cigarette makers to disclose the quantity produced yearly to the Health secretary.

They also ban promotion of tobacco products as well as smoking in open places. Mr Macharia told the National Assembly’s committee on health of frantic efforts to compromise staff at his ministry to delay the implementation of the Tobacco Control Regulations, 2014.

The High Court suspended the implementation of the new regulations on June 4, a day before they were meant to take effect, citing violation of Article 10 of the Constitution by the State.

“The tobacco industry is big and there is a lot of commercial interest in it,” Mr Macharia said in response to Embakasi North MP James Gakuya, who sought to know the status of implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO)onvention and the Tobacco Control Regulations, 2014.

BAT moved to court to contest the legality of the regulations and the Health ministry’s failure to release the required technical information to enable implementation of the law.

READ: BAT suit on new laws premature, says Health minister

Kenya ratified and signed the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) in June 2004, making it the second country to sign and ratify the convention after Norway.

Kenya created the Tobacco Control Board in 2008, but it is only recently that it started pushing its agenda.