Smokers exploit poorly enforced anti-tobacco laws in Nairobi - Beaking Kenya News

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Saturday, 7 November 2020

Smokers exploit poorly enforced anti-tobacco laws in Nairobi

 

Nairobi’s smoking zones are not meeting the requirements provided under the Tobacco Control Act and some smokers have opted to enjoy their puff in the open.

With limited restrictions and notably no one to enforce the law, smoking zones in the city are seen to be crowded, dark, and heavily fuggy. You can barely see anyone inside.

Anthony Muthemba, Nairobi city head of the tobacco control unit says smoking zones are funded by the Tobacco Industry (TI) and efforts to complain to court are normally interfered with by the TI.

“All our water-tight cases touching on the TI via their business partners (vendors) of their products normally end up mysteriously with acquittals. A clear indication of under-hand interference,”Muthemba said.

He added, “We are dealing with a very dishonest TI that trade interests at the expense of the health of Kenyans. Their products are lethal yet they use media to influence public opinion.”

“Some of the tactics used are; donations, tree planting, energy conservation, crying foul over illicit trade, exaggerated economic importance (in tax returns), and projections on government earnings from tax collections.”

The Star spotted some unbothered smokers openly smoking in the streets. Some in pairs and were passing a cigarette between themselves as they chat.

The TCA 2007 states that any person who smokes in a prohibited area commits an offense and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh50,00 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both.

Japhet Kirimi, head of public relations from the TI dismissed Muthemba's claims as rumours.

“Muthemba should provide evidence against these allegations. It is a fishy expedition,” Kirimi said.

There are seven smoking zones within the city; three in Uhuru Park, one at the Jevanjee Gardens, GPO, Bus Station, and on Latema road.

The World Health Organization says Kenya is one of the highest consumers of tobacco in sub-Saharan Africa.

The number of cigarettes sticks smoked per person per year was 257 in 2014 and rose to 264 in 2016.

These quantities were larger than those of most Kenyan neighbours including Uganda and Tanzania.

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