January 3, 2011 - East Africa’s largest cigarette manufacturer, BAT Kenya, wants by-laws on cigarette smoking abolished, terming them “illegal.” Through its lawyers, Kaplan and Stratton, the company wants Attorney-General (AG) Amos Wako, to instruct Ministries of Local Government and Public Health to enforce a legal interpretation on the Tobacco Control Act (TCA) 2007, he made on September 19, 2008, which ruled that current local authorities by-laws on public smoking are illegal.
The Tobacco Control Act 2007, which came into force on 8th July 2008, regulates public smoking and the marketing and sale of tobacco products in Kenya. Tobacco industry players in Kenya are up in arms over this tobacco Control Act claiming its aimed at stiffling the growth of the industry. The Act seeks to among others control the advertising, consumption growing and trade in tobacco in the wake of spirited World Health Organisation (WHO) efforts to illegalise tobacco consumption on health grounds. (Tobacco Act of 2007..)
The AG also reminded Local Authorities of Section 202 of the Local Government Act, which, he added, restricted them from making by-laws that override or derogate from the provisions of any other written law.
Nairobi City Hall has however vowed not to cede any ground. Town Clerk Philip Kisia insists there are no plans to repeal the by-law. “Anyone found smoking in public will be arrested and charged in a court of law,” said Mr Kisia. Apart from Nairobi, the other town with strict anti-tobacco by-laws is Nakuru, however, BAT says smokers are also being arrested in Kisumu, Kakamega, Mombasa, Kirinyaga East and Eldoret.
AG Wako advises BAT to write to the concerned ministries, who should in turn write to him, saying his job is to advise the government and not private companies.
The expanded manufacturing capacity is part of the company's strategy as it seeks to fully exploit the COMESA and East African Community (EAC) markets. Companies in the region are in a rush to align strategies that will make maximum exploits out of the recently enacted common market protocol in EAC.
Euromonitor - Tobacco in Kenya
The war between cigarette manufacturers and anti-tobacco crusaders is not subsiding as each side is working on a strategy to counter the other.
Reference: ‘Anti-smoking by-laws are illegal; even the AG said so’ by JEFF OTIENO, January 3, 2011.
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