By Kabuye Ronald
Ministry of health and the civil society movement advocating for a tobacco free Uganda are dismayed and concerned with the ministry of Trade, industry and cooperative’ persistence and reluctance in retracting their earlier commitment to supporting the tobacco industry through naming 2017 a year of tobacco growing, in additional to making endorsements with the tobacco industry an act that contravenes the Tobacco Control Act 2015.
This has been revealed during the media dialogue organized by Uganda Health Communication Alliance UHCA at Ntinda with an aim of giving highlights on how far the country has reached as far as implementation of the Tobacco Control Act 2015 is concerned as assented to by President Yoweri Kagutta Museveni on the 19th may 2016.
According to Elsa Zawedde a legal officer from Centre for Health Human Rights and Development CEHURD, despite the trade ministry receiving their legal opinion about the same and their endless efforts to engage the ministry officials, they have instead chosen to ignore them and move on with the illegality.
She further warned in case all the available dialogue and mediation measures fails, they will not be left with any other alternative apart from dragging the ministry in courts of law.
Though the act doesn’t prohibit tobacco growing in the country but it does prohibits endorsement, sponsorship and advertisement.
Statistics from the health ministry indicate that for every one dollar the country earns from tobacco industry, the country spends three to five dollars treating its effects.
In the same way every passing hour, 10 people lose their lives due tobacco related diseases and amongst the 10 top killer diseases globally and nationally two are attributed to tobacco effects.
The tobacco control movement through Richard Baguma Tinkasimire the executive director of UHCA has also revealed that they facing direct and indirect attacks from the tobacco industry in order to roll back the achievement so far received.
He said the industry in this line is now recruiting the best Public Relations Agency to do publicity on it behalf, fight individuals and agencies in the fight for tobacco control, support the litigation and promote the tobacco products.