By Ronald Kabuye
The tobacco control act 2015 is coming into full force in terms of implementation today following the elapse of a one year grace period to allow the public and tobacco industry to comply with all its provision after president museveni accented to it on May 19-2016.
Addressing a press conference, the head of mental health division in the ministry of health Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi said that as the tobacco control activists they are committed to fully implement the act given its negative effects to the people’s health and the environment.
“we are happy that the grace period has ended and now the enforcers can move to confiscate, Shisha, electronic cigarettes, kuber, among other staff prohibited in law and arrest any body who is advertising tobacco because the law bans all that” said a jolly Dr. sheila
She added that the act is to serve as an example on how other laws in place should be implemented in the country.
She further cautioned public officials conniving with the tobacco industry to frustrate the law to refrain from the same since the law is very clear that once court finds one guilty he serves at least year imprisonment or fined not less than one million.
in the same way Jennifer Kalule the official from centre for Tobacco control in Africa CTA asserted that the Tobacco industry has no contribution in whatever way to the country.
She based on the research conducted by the same organisation which revealed that government spends 180 billion shillings annually on treating tobacco related diseases while taxes generated from the tobacco industry is only 60b which only accounts for 0.02 percent of the national budget.
The implementation day comes a day after a panel of five justices of the constitutional court led by Steven Kavuma, Chaborion Barishaki, Richard Buteera and Remmy Kasule who also read their unison decision, declined to grant the British American Tobacco BAT an injunction to halt the implementation of the tobacco control act on grounds that it violates the constitution especially article 40 that relates to the economy of the country until their main application Is disposed off.
Accordingly the the tobacco control activists welcomed the ruling saying it is a knockout to the tobacco industry.
“This was a knockout given to tobacco industry, these people went in court with dirty hands since they were not complying with the law.” said Mose Talibita the legal officer of Uganda National Health Consumers Organisation UNHCO.
Talibita also added that as tobacco control activists they have been learning from the mistakes saying that this time around they are going to be more vigilant since they have gotten a wealth of experience.