Kenya - BAT trying to find ways to circumvent law that outlaws promotion of tobacco products..

May 6, 2010 - A war of words has broken out between the Kenya Tobacco Control Board and British American Tobacco (BAT) over a crop insurance policy.

The State agency says the cover violates the law barring promotion of cigarettes. The crop policy developed by UAP Insurance in partnership with Chancery Wright was recently introduced to farmers in Western Province.

BAT has, however, refuted the claims instead asking the board to allow the industry to engage its partners and contribute to their welfare.

“The crop insurance cover, similarly, has no relation to our cigarette brands. It is important that the regulator understands the difference between the corporate entity and the brands,” said Ms Julie Adell-Owino, head of corporate and regulatory affairs, for BAT Kenya.

The Kenya Tobacco Contrl Board, through its chairman Prof Peter Odhiambo, said the product is a violation of the Act and the two firms are liable for punishment. “It is a trickery; UAP is being used by the cigarette company to put a human face on the robbery. The Act prohibits any kind of promotion and by this the manufacturer is violating the law,” Prof Odhiambo told journalists in Nairobi on Wednesday.

“The crop insurance cover does not in any way contravene the tobacco control act and has no relation to our cigarette brands,” noted Ms Adell-Owino.

Already, about 1,000 farmers contracted by the multi-nationals have signed up for the product, most being from Western, Nyanza and Eastern provinces.

“The product allows the promotion of tobacco product and is also meant to create a brand recognition for BAT. This is against the Act and we are going to take punitive measures against them,” said Prof Odhiambo.

In 2008, the government enacted an anti-tobacco law which among other things outlawed smoking in public as well as promoting of tobacco and its by products.

“We believe that tobacco farming is a legal practice and have seen no reason why we could not as a responsible insurer help farmers by alleviating their crop losses” said Mr James Wambugu managing director UAP Insurance.

Board raises smoke over tobacco cover by JOSEPH BONYO, Daily Nation, 5/5/2010.

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