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Anti-tobacco bill passed

A reveller smoking in a public place

MPs yesterday passed the Anti-tobacco Bill 2014 with some amendments, ending uncertainty over a public health initiative opposed by corporate interests.

First moved in March 2014 by Kinkiizi East MP Dr Chris Baryomunsi, now the junior minister of health for general duties, the bill seeks to promote and protect the right to health and life as a fundamental human right.

Should President Museveni assent to the bill, it will set the bar higher for both the tobacco industry and smokers. Among other things, the bill establishes the tobacco control committee, and imposes a responsibility on a person consuming tobacco product to ensure the he or she doesn’t expose another person to tobacco smoke.

Under the new law, an authorised police officer shall have powers to make an arrest without obtaining a search warrant from court, as it had been proposed in the original bill.

However, MPs stripped authorised officers of the powers to destroy the “confiscated” tobacco and its products as opposed to the will of the promoters of the bill.
But some legislators, such as Kibanda’s Sam Otada (Independent) were opposed to the idea, questioning its practicability.

On deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah’s guidance, MPs unanimously agreed that destruction of tobacco or its products, shall only be conducted after obtaining a court order.

PENALTIES

Upon conviction, offenders will be fined up to ten currency points (about Shs 200,000) or be jailed for up to two months or both.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BILL

Prohibits smoking within 100 metres of any public place.
No shisha smoking.
Packets should contain a minimum of 20 sticks of cigarettes.
Cigarette packets should be fully sealed.
Tobacco or its products shouldn’t be prominently displayed.
Bans advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
The text and pictures comprising the health warnings and messages shall appear together and shall occupy no less than less 75 per cent of the packaging.

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