Kinkizi East MP Chris Baryomunsi has tabled before Parliament the Tobacco Control Bill, a private members’ Bill, aimed at regulating the tobacco industry.
The Bill, which was referred to the Parliamentary Health Committee by the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, for consideration is meant to protect Ugandans from the health effects of tobacco consumption.
Speaking to the Daily Monitor at Parliament prior to the tabling of the legislation yesterday, Mr Baryomunsi said the legislation only seeks to regulate how the tobacco industry carries out its business and not banning the growing of tobacco in the country.
He said it will not have any financial implications on the country’s economy since studies have shown that for every dollar obtained from the tobacco industry, government spends three dollars treating tobacco related ailments.
“Farmers in Kanungu District have remained chronically poor despite growing tobacco for a very long time,” the MP said.
He promised to educate farmers on the dangers of growing tobacco and advised them to grow other crops like tea.
Explaining the contents in the Bill, Ndorwa West MP David Bahati said a committee will be instituted under the ministry of Health that will be charged with supervising and monitoring the Bill’s implementation with the tobacco industry.
“We are sure that once this law is supported, there will be a reduction on non-communicable diseases, especially cancers and will spell out clear punishments, including fines and prison sentences for offenders,” he said.
The Bill also intends to protect people from secondary smoking while smokers would be sensitised about the dangers of the practice and also helped to desist it.
It also seeks to ban all forms of tobacco advertising and have graphic images included on cigarette packs as it in most western countries.
According to Mr Possey Mugenyi of the East African Centre for Tobacco Control, the piece of legislation has social and economic components since tobacco reduces people’s life spans.
African countries like Kenya, Chad, Gabon and Rwanda enacted similar laws and are now at enforcement stage.
cap;MPs Chris Baryomunsi (R) and David Bahati address a press conference at Parliament yesterday on the Tobacco Control Bill. PHOTO BY GEOFFREY SSERUYANGE
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