97% of Kenyans Support Smoke-Free Laws

The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) conducted in 2014 indicated that there are over 2 Million adult smokers aged from 15years and above. The same survey also indicated that over 800,000 Kenyans are exposed to secondhand smoke which places them at the risks of NCDs as the STEPwise Survey launched in 2015 by the Ministry of Health showed. These alarming statistics on the rise of NCDs is the country suggests that there is need for members of the public to be protected from the exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.

According to GATS 2014, 97% (percent) of adults who participated in the survey support having strong laws prohibiting smoking inside of restaurants and other public places. The tobacco control act enacted in 2007, which has strong provisions prohibiting Tobacco Advertising Promotion and Sponsorship (TAPS), bans smoking in public places. The proposed regulations, on the other hand, are meant to operationalize certain provisions and will effectively implement the live-saving measures already authorized by Parliament in the 2007 Tobacco Control Act.

Tobacco use still remains the most preventable cause of premature deaths. In Kenya alone, tobacco is linked to over 10,000 deaths annually, according to a report released by WHO. Globally, it is estimated that there will be over 7,000,000 deaths resulting from tobacco use or exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. With up to 97% Kenyans supporting strong laws prohibiting exposure to second-hand smoke, the implementation of the tobacco control regulations of 2014 would come in handy.

The Tobacco Industry or the Big Tobacco as it is globally known must be stopped from interfering with formulation and implementation of life-saving policies in the country and in the region. Kenya is a signatory to WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, famously WHO FCTC. The FCTC is the first ever globally acclaimed public health treaty to be signed and ratified by 180 countries. The Framework provides legally binding measures that are meant to be implemented by the signatories.

As a signatory, Kenya is obligated to fully implement the FCTC by enacting and implementing FCTC-compliant legislation.