A court has dismissed an appeal seeking to stop tougher tobacco control measures that include graphic warning and annual levies to treat cancer patients.
British American Tobacco filed an appeal seeking nine months to implement health warnings contained in the 2014 Tobacco Control Regulations, which took effect in September last year.
They claimed it would cost about Sh93 million in one financial year to print the prescribed health warnings in order to comply with the regulations.
But Court of Appeal judge David Azangla’s Friday ruling quashed their case.
The Health ministry through state counsel Mohamed Adow successfully argued that BAT had already complied with the regulations as cigarette packets with graphic warnings are already in the market.
This is the second time the cigarette makers have lost their case.
In March last year, the High Court ruled against BAT, igniting proceedings at the Court of Appeal.
Sources within the company said they will not move to the Supreme Court to challenge the regulations.
In the meantime, cigarette makers are required to print gory anti-smoking images on all of their cigarette packets, a measure they had slowly started to comply with to even as they challenged it in court.
Each company must also pay to a central fund two per cent of the value of tobacco products it manufactures or imports every financial year.
The money will mainly fund the treatment of Kenyans sickened by tobacco products.
Friday’s ruling is a major win by the ministry of health, the International Institute for Legislative Affairs, Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance, and KEFSHA.
Across the world, countries are now moving to graphic warnings to discourage people from smoking, to prevent cancer and other non-communicable diseases.
A recent study showed smokers in Kenya are falling behind other countries in understanding that smoking leads to debilitating health effects, such as heart disease and stroke.
Only two-thirds of male smokers were aware that smoking causes heart disease – the second-lowest of 14 countries, higher only than China.
The study said Kenyan tobacco users want more information on tobacco packages to become better informed about the harms of tobacco use.
The study was done by an international research team at the Kenya Ministry of Health, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the International Institute for Legislative Affairs, the University of Nairobi, and the University of Waterloo.
Source: The Star, Kenya, John Muchangi (February 17, 2017)