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Tobacco Control Regulations come into effect as BAT wallow in legal defeat

The victory

KETCA and other Tobacco Control advocates in Kenya are in celebratory mode after a historic triumph over tobacco giants, British American Tobacco (BAT) and Mastermind Tobacco Kenya (MTK), after long battle in court.

Tobacco Control Regulations were first gazetted on December 05, 2014 and were set to come to six (6) months later, that is in June 05, 2015. But as expected, BAT opted to delay this by instituting a legal suit against the regulations with an aim of nullifying them. BAT were challenging the constitutionality of the regulations by attempting to fault the regulation making process. The case was heard by the competent high court judge (Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi), who considerably listened to all parties represented in the case and finally made a ruling largely in favour of the regulations. additionally, the high court judge gave an order that the regulations be effected 6-months after the ruling was made. Once again, BAT moved to court to appeal the judgement at the Court of Appeal and this time round they were joined with their other counterparts from the Mastermind Tobacco Kenya (MTK), who by the way joined the case through back door.

At the Court of Appeal, the application was heard by a 3-judge bench composed of Justice Erastus Azangalala, Lady Justice Hannah Okwengu and Lady Justice Fatuma Sichale. The three heard the case and on Friday the 17th February 2017 the most awaited ruling was made. BAT & MTK LOST AGAIN and the Regulations this time round were to be effected with an immediate effect.

Immediate expectations

Following the BIG win over BIG TOBACCO in Kenya, expectations are high among Civil Society Organizations. KETCA today lead other CSOs in presenting these expectations and demands to the government especially those in charge of the implementation and enforcement of the regulations. With the regulations in force, the Civil Society Organizations expect:

  • That there will be total compliance with the Tobacco Control Regulations by the tobacco industry.
  • That tobacco smokers will be encouraged to quit smoking and discourage non-smokers from stating to smoke through explicit pictorial health warning on cigarette packs.
  • That the general public will be protected against involuntary exposure to second hand tobacco smoke in public places and private places especially where there are children and other vulnerable persons.
  • That tobacco companies will not be allowed to engage/ interact with the public officers unsupervised to prevent any form of compromise or influence on policy formulation and enforcement of the same as stipulated in the regulations and the WHO-FCTC.
  • That the tobacco companies will be mandated to take responsibility and support the government’s efforts in curbing the rising effects of tobacco use through mandatory contribution to the tobacco control fund.
  • That the general public will be encouraged to report the contravention of the tobacco control act and regulations to the authority.