Tobacco and Alcohol ARE NOT Essential Products in the Fight Against COVID-19

On April 8, 2020, the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development through the Business Emergency Response Centre (BERC) enlisted tobacco and alcohol among essential products.

The Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA) and ten other health actors have written an open letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development urging her to withdraw these products.

Read the open letter here

Reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other global health experts have warned that tobacco use increases the risk of COVID-19 death. Tobacco and alcohol are important risk factors for non-communicable diseases(NCDs), conditions that make it utterly impossible to manage COVID-19 among patients. Besides the pandemic, tobacco and alcohol are death-traps whose consumption will continue to strain the health system and increase the health burden in the country.

The Kenyan government MUST remain cautious of commercial and vested interests of these industries even as it seeks collaborations in finding solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic.