Tobacco Control Legislation under attack.

On September 18th, 2007, Uganda became part of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Unfortunately, unlike her other comrades like Kenya, Uganda hasn’t pass the Tobacco control bill as of today. This delay is attributed to many factors and one of them being the fact that the Legislation of the Bill has been interfered with by Tobacco companies mostly indirectly. The hustle to look for a suiting word to fit this occurrence failed on my side, although, this is not any different from cooperate fraud, but let’s stick to stark interference by tobacco companies like BAT(British American Tobacco).

The primary goal of Tobacco Control is not to ban Tobacco manufacture or use as many people might think, but to prevent Tobacco- caused diseases and death. Also to protect non-Tobacco users(smokers) from inhaling smoke(passive smoking) through creation of smoking spots in public areas.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of interference by tobacco companies hindering the tobacco legislation process. Tobacco companies expedient public statements as they fight to maximise uptake of tobacco and do all that is possible to ensure that tobacco users continue to be consumers, so these companies fear that once Tobacco Control succeeds, the Tobacco Industry will either fall or fail. Well as failing might be a concern of the industries, the concern of the state is to maintain Proper Public Health, with the rising number of Tobacco deaths, this is a concern for all.

Effective tobacco control  is, almost  by definition,  antithetical to the economic interests of  the tobacco industry, associated industries, and entities or  persons working  to  further the tobacco industry’s  agenda. People  employed  by  the tobacco  industry have  fiduciary responsibilities to their shareholders  or government owners to  take  all  legal steps possible  to maximize profits. It is  therefore entirely predictable that the tobacco industry does what it can to ensure that effective tobacco  control policies  fail.
World Health Organisation, Tobacco free initiative for a tobacco free future. Tobacco Industry Interference With Tobacco Control. ISBN: 978 924 159734 0.

Tobacco Companies avoid, delay and dillute the advancement of effective tobacco control policies and interventions. This, they do in many different ways, both directly and indirectly;
1). They establish inappropriate relationships with legislators.
2). The companies wield/accumulate financial power to fund the interference and their own interests.
3). Leveraging influence through other government officialsnand agencies.
4). They also use front groups to represent their interests.
5). They also distort Government research by giving false feed back and influencing others to do the same.
6). Intimidation and blackmail have also been used.
7). Media houses have been used by Tobacco companies to further their profitable interests.

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World Health Organisation, Tobacco free initiative for a tobacco free future. Tobacco Industry Interference With Tobacco Control. ISBN: 978 924 159734 0.

It should not be forgotten that Tobacco is a killer and the only legally accepted product that kills its consumers even after they use it as they are directed to, to make it worse, Tobacco is highly addictive. I think the Legislators or the Government must ensure that effective Tobacco Control measures are effected and the bill passed even if it means employing an independent body of experts to research and draft the bill so that it is quite fair to both sides.

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