By Paul Kiwuuwa
MPs have started scrutinizing the Uganda Tobacco Control Bill 2014 yet another move to promote and protect the right to health and life as a fundamental human right.
The Bill which aims at regulating tobacco manufacture, sponsorships and protecting children from consuming cigarettes and tobacco products was tabled before parliament for the first reading on Friday
The mover of the private member’s Bill Dr. Chris Baryomunsi (Kinkiizi West, NRM) explained “the Bill does not intend to phase out tobacco production in the country but is after regulating its consumption and emphasizing measures on its production without causing harm to innocent ones.”
He said “The Bill comes at a time when the country’s expenditure is higher on non-communicable diseases like cancer and heart diseases among others which are all orchestrated by tobacco production or consumption.”
Ndorwa West MP David Bahati who seconded the Bill said that they will continue working closely with Ministry of Health to have in place a supervisory committee to follow up its implementation once passed into law.
The Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has committed the Tobacco Control Bill 2014 to the parliamentary committee on health for scrutiny.
“The committee will start its process of scrutinizing the Bill and will consult other stakeholders to contribute” said Kadaga.
Baryomunsi said The Bill seeks to regulate the manufacturers, sale, labeling, promotion, advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products, if passed into law “it will also regulate the distribution and public use of tobacco products.”
Ndorwa West MP David Bahati who seconded the Bill said the 1995 Uganda’s constitution guarantees the right to a healthy and clean environment and life.
Earlier on in a press briefing at Parliament, tobacco control’s focal person in the ministry of health, Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi said tobacco use is the root cause off all non-communicable diseases including cancer, heart attack, stroke, impotence, diabetes, and asthma among others.
Ndyanabangi said tobacco intake worsens conditions of HIV/AIDS and TB infected persons.
According to her, “scientific evidence has it that mere touching and using it in any form is very dangerous to human health. She added that tobacco use in Uganda stands at 16% for males and 3% for females.”
She added 19% of secondary school students and about 35% of students in tertiary institutions smoke which is a dangerous trend.
The key provisions of the Bill include a proposal to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
“This section is aimed at protecting the public from messages that induce and entice people especially the youths from consuming tobacco. The part also provides for a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion, sponsorship and social corporate responsibility,” explained Baryomunsi.
Ndyanbangi said, “The Bill also proposes to regulate tobacco packing and labeling that attracts people to consume.”
We shall ensure this section informs consumers of the health consequences, addictive nature, and the health hazards and threats posed by tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.