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Cigarette makers using devious ways to advertise to children, bypassing anti-tobacco law

Cigarette makers have resorted to devious ways to advertise, bypassing a law that bans promotion of tobacco products.

Advocates say the firms are now enticing children as young as seven years old to smoke, thus frustrating the full implementation of the Tobacco Control Act.

International Institute for Legislative Affairs chief executive Emma Wanyonyi said the industry is openly advertising cigarettes through conspicuous shop displays at the eye-level of young children.

“The industry is not only advertising their products, but also displaying products to children due to lack of enforcement,” she said.

Wanyonyi said even though one local company has started printing the graphic warnings as demanded by the Tobacco Control Regulations, 2014, the industry is already in court challenging those regulations.

The regulations seek to operationalise the 2007 Tobacco Control Act.

The sale of single stick cigarettes is also widespread, close to schools, although it is illegal, she said.

Wanyonyi challenged the Agriculture ministry to come to the rescue of farmers, who are still dependent on tobacco for them to have alternative crops.

“Tobacco growing depletes soil but researches that have been done show that there are alternative crops that can be grown,” she said.

Tobacco is the biggest known preventable cause of cancer and other non-communicable diseases.

Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance member Achieng Otieno said tobacco industries are so powerful as they have in the recent past compromised a section of MPS.

“The fact that the industry is well resourced has been a challenge in the implementation of the new law,” he said, adding that it has taken the country nine years to come up with new regulations.

Ochieng said even though they have written to EACC concerning bribery allegations by industry to MPS with the view of influencing some of the policies, EACC is yet to respond to them, one year later.

The World Health Organisation says last year, Kenyans smoked eight million cigarette sticks, compared to 6.5 million in 2013.

Tobacco industry in the country is vehemently opposed to new regulations regulating the manufacture, sale and advertising of tobacco products.

The regulations demand that pictures of dead babies, throat cancer and rotten teeth should appear on cigarette packets next month.

They include pictures of punctured throats and cancerous lung.

The regulations require both pictorial and text health warnings printed on the packets.

Also known as plain packaging, the move aims at dissuading current and potential smokers by giving them information on the harmful effects of nicotine and tar.

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