The Tobacco Control and Health Promotion Alliance has blamed the lack of political goodwill in the fight against tobacco use in the country.
This comes after the legislators and policy makers delayed to push through a regulation that sought to compel the tobacco firms to give 2% of their income towards developing the tobacco control fund initiatives.
The Alliance says that the Tobacco Control Fund ought to have been in place after the enactment of the Tobacco Control Act in 2007.
In 2014 after a case pitting the BAT against the government and other CSOs that were enjoined in the case, tobacco control regulations were gazzeted and put in force
The Tobacco Control and Health Promotion Alliance claims that the public figures in the country have been bribed to delay the implementation of the regulations making it hard for the policy makers to effectively enforce it.
In an exclusive interview, The Alliance Chairman Mr. Joel Gitali said that the companies employ techniques which ensure delay of policies and if they are made, they are too weak to affect the said companies.
“The tobacco fund is not yet operational and what was to happen is that the companies were supposed to surrender2% of the value of their products that they either manufacture of imported in the country every year,” said Gitali
The funds were supposed to be surrendered as Solitium Compensatory Contribution that was to go to the tobacco control funds as a way of mitigating the effects of tobacco.
Currently there are 4 firms dealing with tobacco in the country BAT, Mastermind Tobacco, Alliance one and Philip Morris International that brings tobacco to Kenya.
“The MPs and policy makers have delayed the implementation and in that one we are smelling a rat why has the fund been delayed deliberately? There was an expose in Kenya which was talking about BAT bribing high ranked Politicians who are policy makers. Tobacco companies employ techniques to ensure the policies are weak or there are no policies that govern the use of Tobacco products,” added Gitali.
Recently, the Legislators reduced the tax that had been imposed on Nicotine products from Ksh.5000 per Kilogram to Ksh. 1200 per Kilogram. Mr. Gitau said it is very wrong for the MPs to reduce as it gives influence to the companies to increase market in the country.
He said they have tried pressurizing the government to investigate the matters but it has always been in vain because there has been no follow up on the matter.
He also blamed the government for accepting funds from the BAT Company as they are banned from sponsoring, advertising and doing any promotional activities according to the guidelines of the World Health Organisations.
“The Tobacco Control Funds were delayed saying there were no guidelines for the implementations. We came up with implementations which were even gazetted but they have not yet released the funds, “Said Gitau.
The Chairman further urged the Health ministry to avoid any associations with Tobacco companies to help fight the used of their products. He said the health CS should transform from being business minded into a healthcare personnel and he will never listen to the Tobacco companies.