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Tobacco Law Takes Effect Next Month

The Tobacco Control Act, 2015 and Tobacco Control Regulations, 2019 will take full effect early next month, to regulate an industry that has seen a surge in illicit cigarettes.

According to the Tobacco Control Committee, the law will take effect on April 1, next month, having been delayed for two months since February 2021.

The committee said the law will address the ongoing sale of cigarettes without the required graphic warnings, by some manufacturers and distributors.

Boaz Musimenta, the chairperson of the committee, said they will meet next week on Monday to come up with resolutions, which will be forwarded to the minister of health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng.

He said the resolutions will be used as a basis for action against manufacturers,distributors and retailers who are presently found in breach of the law.

“We were meant to have met earlier, but because of this Covid-19, we somehow failed. Now we shall meet next week, to determine action points against those in breach of the law, because we have complaints, even from some manufacturers, about those who are breaching the law,” he said.

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Under the Tobacco Control Act of 2015, pictorial health warnings are required to cover 65% of each principal display area of the tobacco product packaging.

The picture portion of the warning is supposed to occupy 80% of the space set aside for the warnings, with the text portion occupying the remaining 20%.

According to the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) publicist, Sylvia Kirabo, the standards agency is currently reviewing the standard on packaging and labelling of tobacco products.

She said UNBS received the request to review the standards from the ministry of health, which is directly responsible for regulating the tobacco industry.

“During the review, we get input from all stakeholders in the industry and, soon, they will be approached for their input,” Kirabo said.

On March 3, the Uganda Law Society wrote to the minister of health, complaining of what they called an outrageous consistent breach of the tobacco law.

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The letter, signed by the law society president, Pheonah Wall, said the presence of shisha in public places, tobacco products that do not bear the graphic warnings and sale of tobacco products in unit packs that do not comply with the regulations undermine efforts to protect the public against the adverse effects of tobacco products.

In the letter, Wall indicated that the continued breach of the law could be aided by lack of enforcement of the law, which is a great risk to public health and the rule of law.

“Court records show that the application for judicial review of the regulations, pursuant to which, the court issued an injunctive order against implementation of the regulations has since been withdrawn, and therefore, the law is currently in force with no legal obstacle to enforcement,” Wall noted in the letter.

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