In Summary
  • I strongly propose that since tobacco is linked to most of the cancers and non-communicable diseases and kills nearly 13,500 people in Uganda and more than 600,000 non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke globally, Uganda ought to implement and enforce the provisions of the Tobacco Control Act given the effectiveness it carries, which accordingly, has the potential of curbing the cons of tobacco smoking in the country.

The Tobacco Control Act No.11 of 2015 came into force on May 19, 2016 with the intention as discerned by the long title of the Act to inter alia controlling the demand for the consumption of tobacco and its products, supply of tobacco and its products to the population, protecting the environment from the effects of tobacco production and consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.
The Act is a fulfilment of Uganda’s obligations to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which the country ratified on June 20, 2007.

The Act established the Tobacco Control Committee under Part II, with the mandate of implementing the objectives of the Act, coordinate and monitor tobacco control interventions and under Sections 12 and 11, it made provision for prohibition of tobacco smoke in public places and a smoke-free environment respectively.
These were, according to the key stakeholders, a positive step towards a clean and healthy environment.

The above notwithstanding, just like most laws, Uganda has one of the best laws, but it is poor at enforcement or implementation. From the time of its coming into force, the police, together with the Kampala Capital City Authority, have since conducted shisha (flavoured tobacco) operations in accordance with Section 16, which bans the sell, importation, display and buying of shisha in Uganda by any person.
However, most bars in Kampala are still in the business of supplying the product to the youth, who consistently smoke it sometimes publicly, at the detriment of other non-smokers contrary to the provisions of the Act. This has in fact persisted in the same bars notwithstanding their initial closure by the enforcement agents.

Whereas the Act establishes a number of enforcement officers that include public health officers, National Environmenta Management Authority (Nema), environmental inspectors, standards inspectors from the UNBS and customs officers from URA, the enforcement of most provisions has gone on the balance with little or no action from the aforementioned agencies in combating tobacco smoking as mandated by the Act.
I strongly propose that since tobacco is linked to most of the cancers and non-communicable diseases and kills nearly 13,500 people in Uganda and more than 600,000 non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke globally, Uganda ought to implement and enforce the provisions of the Tobacco Control Act given the effectiveness it carries, which accordingly, has the potential of curbing the cons of tobacco smoking in the country.