Gov’t plans to introduce new measures against tobacco use

Tuesday, May 28th, 2024 12:31 | By
An illustration of a cigarette. The ministry of Health is set to introduce new warnings on tobacco pouches and packs. PHOTO/ Pexels.
An illustration of a cigarette. The ministry of Health is set to introduce new warnings on tobacco pouches and packs. PHOTO/ Pexels.

The government is planning to introduce more stringent measures to discourage the consumption of tobacco and its products.

In the runup to the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) slated for May 31, 2024, the Ministry of Health's Principal Secretary Muthoni Muriuki noted that whereas there has been significant success with the campaigns against tobacco use, much more needed to be done.

"Despite a decline in tobacco use from 12% in 2014 to 9% in 2022, Kenya now faces new challenges with the rapid proliferation of Novel Nicotine and Emerging Tobacco Products (NNETPs), such as nicotine pouches, vapes, and electronic cigarettes," Muriuki stated.

War on tobacco

Some of the successes the ministry has achieved include the implementation of stringent regulations and policies aimed at reducing tobacco use.

The other is the strict enforcement of the Tobacco Control Act of 2007, which mandates graphic health warnings on cigarette packages and bans smoking in public places.

The other area of work is the establishment of a multi-sector task force to investigate novel nicotine and other emerging tobacco products, with recommendations currently being implemented.

Tobacco alternatives

According to the ministry, these products are often marketed as less harmful alternatives to traditional cigarettes and target young people with appealing flavours and misleading health claims.

For the upcoming World No Tobacco Day, the ministry plans to introduce new graphics to be placed on all tobacco products to increase awareness of the dangers associated with both conventional tobacco products and NNETPs.

Some of the objectives will include highlighting public health risks, exposing industry tactics, and reinforcing policy commitment.

Some of the suggestions of tobacco warnings on cigarette packs and pouches. PHOTO/ (@MOH_Kenya)/ X

During the WNTD day, the ministry will provide updates on the Tobacco Control Act, as well as review, and launch a report on the morbidity, mortality, and economic implications of tobacco use in Kenya.

While health advocates have proposed that the warnings on tobacco packs and pouches should occupy at least 80 per cent of the front and back of the products, the current law requires only 30 per cent.

“We want enlarged warnings to cover 80 per cent of all sides of packaging of any nicotine and tobacco-related products,” the head of the Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance, Joel Gitali observed in April.

According to the ministry, Kenya had three million tobacco users as of 2022, which represented 5.7 per cent of the population.

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