Violation will attract a fine, imprisonment or both
Any person caught smoking tobacco in public places shall be arrested, taken to court and asked to pay maximum of sh200,000 as penalties.
This follows the enforcement of the Tobacco Control Law that came into force on Wednesday.
The law prohibits smoking in public places including hotels, bars, bus and taxi parks and means of public transport and other outdoor space within 50 metres of a public place.
The national focal chairperson, Tobacco Control in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi said enforcement of the law has started and anyone got smoking in public shall be arrested.
The law has different provisions and each of them has penalties prescribed for the law breakers.
"The penalties range from a fine of 10 currency points which is equivalent to sh200,000 for any person caught smoking in public. The smoker shall be warned first to stop smoking in a public place but if he or she refuses to listen, will be arrested," she said.
"Tobacco endangers the lives of everyone including passive smokers. The health of everyone and own our environment matters, do not wait to break the law and be arrested. People ought to stop smoking in public places.
The violation of these provisions will attract a fine, imprisonment or both. Prison sentences range from six months to five years or more," she added.
Ndanabangi was speaking during a press briefing held at the Ministry of Health's headquarters in Kampala.
Other than public smokers, owners of public premises like bars, hotels who fail to display a no-smoking sign, the fine is 12 currency points equivalent to sh240,000.
The penalties increase on subsequent offences. The highest fines go up to not less than 1,000 points equivalent to sh20m in the case of a corporate company.
According to Daniel Kedobera, an epidemiologist in the Ministry of Health, over 13500 Ugandans die annually due to tobacco related cancers.
According to the Tobacco Atlas 2013 Uganda report, 3.3% of adults (608,600 people) use smokeless tobacco in Uganda. Smokeless tobacco includes chewing, spit, dip, sniff and a host of new dissolvable products.
Uganda signed the World Health Organization (WHO) framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHOFCTC) on 5thMarch 2004 and ratified it on 20th June 2007 becoming a party to the WHO FCTC convention.
To implement the Convention, the Tobacco Control Bill was passed by Parliament on 28th July 2015.
The Bill was assented to by President Yoweri Museveni on 19th September 2015, gazetted on 18th November 2015 and the act came into force on 18th May 2016.