By Paul Kiwuuwa
KAMPALA - In a bid to protect the rights of non-smokers, MPs on the parliamentary forum for non-communicable diseases (PFNCD) want a ban on selling single sticks of cigarettes.
They also demand that 75% of the cigarette packets bear visible health warnings with pictures showing harmful defects suffered by cigarette smokers.
The MPs currently scrutinizing the Tobacco Control Bill 2014 have met with stakeholders from the civil society and tobacco farmers from western Uganda at Parliament to get their views on the Bill.
The private member’s Bill was last year introduced by Kinkizi East MP Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, who argues it is not intended to phase out tobacco production in the country, but regulate its production and use, while reducing harm to non-users.
The forum chairperson, Benny Namugwanya, also the Mubende woman MP, said most youth countrywide can afford to buy a single cigarette compared to a whole packet.
This, she added, later becomes a habit, consequently leading to tobacco-related illnesses.
“We want to make cigarette consumption expensive for the youth and ensure children cannot afford buying a packet of cigarettes, because they are most targeted by the cigarette manufacturers,” she said.
Namugwanya warned that many attractive tobacco products like Kuber, shisha, hooker, and tobacco-flavoured candy have flooded the Ugandan market to lure the youths mostly in schools, universities and tertiary institutions.
On his part, Dr. Baryomunsi said there 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.
Buikwe South MP Dr. Lulume Bayiga, also a medical practitioner, said tobacco use is the root cause of all non-communicable diseases including cancer, heart attack, stroke, impotence, diabetes and asthma.
The tobacco control’s focal person in the ministry of health, Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi, said tobacco intake worsens conditions of HIV/AIDS and TB infected persons, among other ailments.