Tobacco Control in Kenya is facing very strong opposition.
Pronouncements by the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Hon Najib Balala point at a really worrying situation.
Given that there is a case in Court challenging the ban, the following questions arise:
- Who could Balala be talking for?
- Might he be a direct or indirect beneficiary of Shisha money?
- What happened to the principle of collective responsibility in government?
- Does this explain why the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Health had to go after banning Shisha?
- Does Balala feel that being the oldest serving Cabinet Secretary (Minister) he should supervise the Ministry of Health?
- Might the utterances have been aimed at influencing the on going case against Shisha?
A statement from the Ministry of Tourism is not making matters any better. It carries the exact words and argument that the tobacco companies use, ‘Stakeholders were not involved, there were no consultations’ etc. Why should Balala be consulted on matters health? He complains against the manner in which the decision was take.
I would like to state the following:
- We are fully in support of Ban on Shisha in Kenya. We are the leaders in the region and we cannot afford to let the region/sub-region down.
- We, together with other stakeholders, were adequately consulted.
- We are sad that Coastal leaders, at both the national and county levels, continue to throw spanner in the works and yet the region is the hardest hit. Drug abuse, including Shisha, and illicit trade in the same require very sober and responsible leadership to eliminate. Unfortunately, this has remained the greatest challenge
- We join the Islamic leaders in condemning the irresponsible position taken by the Cabinet Secretary and request Christian leaders to do the same.
- We request the President to call the government to order so that such embassing situations are avoided.
- The government must lead in implementing Tobacco Control policies in the country without any further delay.
JOEL SHUNZA GITALI,
CHAIRMAN, KENYA TOBACCO CONTROL ALLIANCE (KETCA)