By Kabuye Ronald
The tobacco control policy is just awaiting approval by cabinet to become operational just 10 months after the tobacco control act 2015 came into force.
Dr. Hafiswa Lukwata from the department of mental health and substance abuse in the ministry of health said besides finalizing the policy where they included tax and awareness issues, they have already embarked on the process of developing the regulations and awaiting the ten organizations and ministries to send the representatives on the tobacco control committee.
The organizations mandated to send representatives include Office of the prime minister which is mandated to chair the committee, ministry of health as the secretariat, NEMA, UNBS, CSOs, ministry of trade, Agriculture, Education and Gender, Labor and social development.
She attributed the delay in setting up the committee to the lengthy process which involves engaging the ministries on one on one basis so as to make them knowledgeable about the law, scrutinize the kind of people appointed and the need to first develop the regulations and the terms of reference.
Hafiswa also alluded to the fact that tobacco is of no importance other than subtracting life
“There is no any other species that consumes tobacco apart from human beings and besides doing it for leisure, it has no value rather than just subtracting life” said Dr. Hafiswa.
She further appealed to the public to take lead in implementing the tobacco control act than leaving the mandate to police.
Meanwhile Moses Talibita a legal officer with Uganda National Health Consumer’ Organization UNHCO revealed that so far over 500 law enforcement officers have been sensitized and trained about the act country wide, in addition to the various leaders both at local and national levels.
He added that they have carried out numerous operations against business owners and individuals that fail to comply with the law before revealing that culprits who were netted in these operations their files are before resident state attorneys and they expect to charge them early next month or latest this month.
According to World Health Organization WHO, over 6 million people die due to tobacco related diseases and of these 10% are second hand smokers