Smoking in open public places to be criminalised

Kampala. Smokers will have to walk 100 metres away from any non-smoker if they must puff while on public roads once the Tobacco Control Bill becomes law.

Dr Chris Baryomunsi, who initiated the Bill, said the existing regulations have not protected non-smokers from tobacco smoke, which causes lung cancer.

“This Bill is being debated Smokers should make sure they are as far as possible from non-smokers, including outdoor space that is within 100 metres,” said Dr Baryomunsi. “Just creating special places for non-smokers will not protect other people.”People who will be convicted of flouting the law will either be imprisoned, fined Shs20,000, have their trading licences suspended or forfeit their proceeds.The Bill is currently before Parliament’s Committee on Health for fine-tuning.The World Health Organisation says averagely 37 people in Uganda die everyday due to tobacco-related diseases such as lung cancer.

According to the Tobacco Control Journal (2013), without more action by African nations to discourage smoking, the percentage of smokers will increase to 30 per cent by 2030.That means countries should quickly come up with laws to regulate the use of the tobacco.The proposed law will require shopkeepers to sell whole packets of cigarettes instead of just a few ‘sticks’.This is meant to put cigarettes out of the reach of many youth who buy them because the shopkeepers sell them in ‘pocket–friendly’ quantities.

The Bill will also require shopkeepers not to sell cigarettes to people below 21-years-old.Dr Baryomunsi said raising the age is meant to protect many youth from picking up the practice since over time it would become a habit.

About the billExisting regulations just ban smoking in and around indoor–public places courts, offices, hotels, bars and restaurants and means of public transport but do not cater for open places like smoking while on the road. This Bill therefore seeks to address this anomally.The Bill will guide the number of cigarettes in a packet so that many youth people do not find it easy to buy themselves cigarettes.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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