Business bodies slam Nairobi’s Tobacco Bill as too oppressive
Mar 04, 2019: Business operators in Nairobi have rejected the proposed Nairobi City County Tobacco Bill 2018 terming it a subjective and ‘evil’ way of rising revenue.
The business groups which on Wednesday gave their submissions to the Bill that is currently at the public participation stage said that if signed, the law will push many small businesses out of work and negatively disrupt activities in the country’s tobacco sector.
The bill seeks creation of a county department responsible for health, which will issue licences to retailers of tobacco. Anybody manufacturing, distributing or selling any tobacco product within Nairobi will have to follow the law.
If not, a manufacturer, wholesaler or distributor will be fined up to Sh50,000 or one-month imprisonment while a retailer will face Sh10,000 fine or one month in prison.
Employing the under-aged to sell, provide or supply any tobacco product will also attract fines.
Some of business bodies that attended the hearing include the Retail Trade Association of Kenya, the Kenya Association of Manufacturing, the Pubs and Restaurants Association of Kenya and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Retail Trade Association of Kenya (RETRAK) dismissed the proposed law as subjective to traders and a mere tax collection strategy addressing as public health.
“My members are very concerned about what this Bill would mean for them and their livelihoods. It proposes a number of new and additional tobacco control measures, some of which would have unintended consequences for thousands of small businesses in Nairobi City,’’ said RETRAK chief executive Wambui Mbarire.
She termed the proposal to introduce license for all businesses that sell tobacco, from the manufacturer, distributor and wholesaler to all vendors and kiosk owners as overly costly and bureaucratic.
Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Nairobi chapter said the law will breed more counterfeits that will deny the city the revenue it desires.
The body’s acting chief executive George Kiondo lamented that traders are already shouldering heavy taxes and that measures in the proposed law are bring setbacks to the country’s improving competitiveness in the region and overall ease of doing business.
“The display ban, in addition to new licensing requirements, has the potential to increase illicit trade and sale of substandard goods, therefore posing a huge problem for the industry and the country at large. It is a recipe for tax evasion and growth of illicit trade,’’ Kiondo said.
Mid last month, BAT Kenya also asked the County’s Health Committee to rethink the Bill, saying it represent over-regulation and is way above Kenya’s Tobacco Control Act 2007.