Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA) convened a tobacco control forum dubbed “TC Forum 2017”. The forum was aimed at bringing different players in the country to discuss the progress made so far in tobacco control. One of the challenges highlighted was the need to have a multi-sectoral approach in tobacco control especially within government. This was cited as a positive step in addressing the apparent gaps in the implementation of tobacco control policies in the country.
Health being a devolved function, county governments play a pivotal role in the implementation of tobacco control policies in the country. A proper coordination mechanism needs to be adopted to ensure there is clear communication between the national government and the counties. With this approach, the laxity in the implementation and enforcement of tobacco control laws will easily be dealt with thus supporting the efforts of averting deaths caused by tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke. Counties on the other hand, need to accept the challenge of ensuring the national tobacco control policies are well implemented and enforced and if need be, through the county legislative advantage come up with legislation that strengthen the national law with respect to the diversities within the counties.
A County Tobacco Control Technical Working Group (CTCTWG) would go a long was in ensuring effective implementation of TC policies and formulation of policies that are watertight in curbing tobacco menace at county levels. Political goodwill at the counties is equally vital for successes at the counties. Counties such as Tharaka Nithi, Kakamega, Machakos and Vihiga have their successes anchored on the support received from the top leadership at the respective counties.
TC Forum 2017 brought together players from the national government including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, and Tobacco Control Board. Health is a devolved function in the country and so the presence of representatives from the county governments was vital. The county teams were led by the Council of Governors and health representatives from Vihiga, Migori, Tharaka Nithi, Mombasa, Kakamega, and Machakos counties.