30 people in city arrested as police enforce tobacco law

Police arrest shisha smokers at a city bar at the weekend. COURTESY PHOTO

What you need to know:

Enforced. The arrests were in pursuit of the implementation of the Tobacco Control Act


Thirty people were last Saturday arrested in Kampala in the anti-tobacco operation conducted by the Uganda National Health Consumers Organisation [UNHCO] under the Ministry of Health and the police.

This was in pursuit of the implementation of the Tobacco Control Act that was passed by Parliament in July 2015 and assented to by President Museveni.

The weekend operation was commanded by Kira Road Police Station Division police commander, Mr Philbert Waibi. It covered four city bars on Acacia Avenue, Naguru and Bukoto.

“We have gone to four places and arrested 30 people and have also impounded the shisha pots in all these, we are committed to working together with the Ministry of Health and the Uganda National Health Consumers Organisation to see to it that the Tobacco control Act is implemented,” he said.

Mr Waibi added that all those arrested will take the normal procedure of being held suspects and later taken to court to be proved otherwise.

Ms Mabel Kukunda, an advocate from UNHCO, said Uganda loses about 13,000 people annually due to tobacco related cases and it lies upon statistics to show the public the dangers of smoking tobacco by conducting such operations.

“Statistics from the Uganda Cancer Institute show that 50 per cent cases are tobacco related,” she said.
“A single session of shisha equals to 100 tobacco sticks, according to the World Health Organisation. We think such operations will help to put an end to this phenomenon.”

Ms Kukunda added that the operation that started in Mukono District is presently on in Kampala and will traverse the whole country; putting to book every bar that sells tobacco products.

Mr Moses Talibita, the legal officer at UNHCO, said their legal team is ready to tussle it out in court with the suspects in a bid to have the Act enforced in the country.
“We call upon the DPP to sanction the files of these people and take them to court so as they can face the law, which holds them accountable for their actions,” he said.

Restrict importation
Mr Talibita said government agencies such as Uganda National Bureau of Standards mandated to control importation of substandard products, should restrict entry of such items into Uganda.

key issues

Law. The Tobacco Control Act, 2015 was passed by Parliament on July 28, 2015, assented to by the President on September 19, 2015 and gazetted on November 18 the same year after it was overwhelmingly supported by all legislators.

Measures. The law provides for stringent measures aimed at protecting non-smokers from the health, social, economic and environmental consequences of tobacco use and exposure.

Ban. The Act put a total ban on some tobacco products, including shisha (water-pipe tobacco), smokeless tobacco such as Kubar, which is chewed and flavoured tobacco products and also banned production, sale and use of electronic cigarettes.

Penalty. According to the law, any person who contravenes the Tobacco Control Act is liable to imprisonment of a term not less than a year or pay a fine of Shs420,000 or both.