More smoking zones to be introduced

July 13, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, July 13 – Smokers in Nairobi should be happy to hear that the number of designated smoking zones within the central business district will be increased, according to the City Mayor Geoffrey Majiwa.

The Mayor said on Sunday that City Hall would be setting up more zones, in tow with the implementation and enactment of the Tobacco Control Act, which toughens the ban on smoking in public places.

Majiwa said the expansion would include a redistribution of the said zones to avoid smoke-congestion in specific areas.

“We are exploring the possibility of re-designating the smoking zones to avoid inconveniencing both smokers and non-smokers,” he offered.

There are currently five smoking zones within the city, which include Uhuru Park, the Muthurwa Hawkers Market, and a section of a parking lot near the General Post Office.

The Tobacco law that came into effect last week provides a legal framework to control the production, manufacture, sale, advertising and use of tobacco products.

Public Health Minister said the new tough law is aimed at protecting public health, and discourage smoking among Kenyans below the age of 18.

The Tobacco Control Act was passed in August 2007 but was given a nine-month implementation period prior to its operationalisation on Tuesday.

The Mayor said the Act strengthens the Nairobi City Council’s resolve to control and eliminate smoking within the city, and added that it would be prudent to review a recently passed General Nuisance council by-law that outlaws smoking in public places.

The ban will affect office blocks, working areas, court buildings, education institutions, residential areas, places of worship, police stations, prisons, markets, malls, cinemas, theatres, children’s homes and playing fields.

It however gives room to restaurant and pub owners to create well-ventilated places for smokers.

Majiwa told journalists in his parlour that following the Act’s implementation, the council would embark on a public awareness campaign to redefine the scope of ‘public places’, as mentioned in the law.

He said officers from the council’s Public Health and City Inspectorate Department would carry out regular inspections on all restaurants in the CBD and residential estates.

“We want to ensure full compliance. The council shall also launch an awareness campaign to educate smokers and restaurant owners on how to facilitate and enjoy smoking within the law.”

There has been confusion among Nairobi residents over whether smoking while stuck in traffic could be an offence.

Apart from the confusion, the recently enacted law has also drawn opposition through a lawsuit.

A cigarette manufacturing company moved to court on Friday, to challenge the new tobacco control measures, claiming that they criminalise the production, manufacture, sale, labelling, advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products.

Mastermind Tobacco Kenya Limited filed a suit against the Attorney General (AG) Amos Wako, seeking to nullify the Tobacco Control Act of 2007, on grounds that it is ‘unconstitutional, irrational and not a legitimate exercise of the state police powers’.

The company argued that criminal sanctions contained in the Act were not severable from other provisions, which in their opinion, amounted to a breach of the constitution.

It further complained that the law allows the imposition of taxes and price policies that are discriminatory, and the whole Act seeks to interfere with its rights of trade.



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