Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Is Uganda walking the talk on tobacco control?

Uganda ratified the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in June 2007. Uganda is currently in the process of domesticating the FCTC through a comprehensive tobacco control bill that is projected to be enacted by the Ugandan parliament in December 2012. There exist, however, regulations enacted in 2004 banning smoking in public places and a ministerial directive of 1995 banning Tobacco advertising.

This 2012 Shadow report by Civil Society, on Uganda’s compliance with the FCTC with specific regard to two articles of the FCTC; Article 8 on protection from exposure to second-hand smoke and Article 13 on Tobacco Advertising Promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) suggests that there are glaring gaps in enforcement of the standards in Tobacco control that Uganda committed itself to in June 2007.

Despite the passing in 2004 of the (Control of Public smoking)regulations, the regulations largely remain on paper, with no known enforcement practice by the agencies mandated to bring them to bear. There is low awareness among the general Ugandan public of the existence of these regulations but even more worryingly, among the judiciary and the Ugandan Police force. Many owners of public places do place ‘no smoking’ signs on their premises but this is only as much as they are willing to go.

The tobacco industry in Uganda continues to advertise, promote and sponsor activities aimed at increasing demand for tobacco products in contravention of the ministerial directive of 1995 with no known regulatory regime to bring them to account. There have been some gains registered as tobacco advertising is less explicit than it was in years past, for instance, there are virtually no billboards advertising tobacco products. Point of sale (POS) violations do however stand out prominently.

For this report, field visit were extensively done in Kampala, Mbarara and Gulu using FCA observation methodologies in the second quarter of 2012. A data collection workshop with Tobacco control CSOs was conducted in August 2012 with additional secondary data.

We wish to thank the Framework Convention Alliance(FCA) for the research grant that made this report possible and look forward to the Uganda Tobacco Control Act (2012) to bring the Uganda tobacco industry to account for the contraventions compiled in this report.

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