Kenya flooded with harmful nicotine products, say groupsACTA
Addiction to tobacco and nicotine termed one of the biggest public health threats
• These products often come in appealing flavours, making them enticing to nonsmokers, youth and children
• The organisations called for strict regulations on the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of oral nicotine pouches to protect nonsmokers and the youth
Kenya faces a resurgence of highly addictive nicotine products that were banned by the Ministry of Health two years ago, health advocates have said.
Four civil society groups, which conducted a survey in Nairobi, said none of these products adheres to the Tobacco Control Act and its regulations.
They asked the Ministry of Health to crack down on the products, including nicotine pouches, which are widely sold in retail outlets.
Other products widely sold on the streets are vapes, e-cigarettes and various forms of chewed tobacco.
“Recent studies and evidence have shown that oral nicotine pouches pose serious health risks,” said Thomas Lindi, national coordinator of the Tobacco Control and Health Alliance, who read the statement.
He cited nicotine addiction and potential cardiovascular harm.
“These products often come in appealing flavours, making them enticing to nonsmokers, youth and children,” Lindi said.
“This consequently increases the likelihood of nicotine initiation among individuals who may otherwise have never considered tobacco or nicotine pouches use.”
The other organisations were the Consumer Information Network, the International Institute for Legislative Affairs and the Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance Kenya.
They accused the tobacco industry of manipulating the law to introduce harmful products.
“We jointly call upon the Kenyan government to take decisive steps to protect public health and curb the usage of oral nicotine pouches,” Lindi said.
The organisations also screened a documentary based on the study.
The documentary exposed how the tobacco industry craftily reintroduced banned nicotine pouches into the market, bypassing crucial regulatory measures laid down by the Ministry of Health.
These products were earlier recalled in 2020 due to the absence of proper registration.
The documentary highlighted the absence of graphic health warnings and clear regulations.
The organisations called for strict regulations on the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of oral nicotine pouches to protect nonsmokers and the youth.
“Misleading marketing tactics must be prohibited to ensure consumers are well-informed about the risks and addictive nature of these products,” said Samuel Ochieng, CEO of the Consumer Information Network.
Ochieng demanded the government launches comprehensive public health campaigns to raise awareness about the dangers of oral nicotine addiction.
He also said Kenya should adhere to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Tobacco Control Act 2007 and the Tobacco Control Regulations of 2014.
“The oral nicotine pouches do not have graphic health warnings, for instance,” he said.
“They can be accessed even in sachets, which is like selling single stick cigarettes, which is outlawed by the Tobacco Control Act 2007 since it makes the products more accessible even to children.”
Last year, the Ministry of Health led a nationwide campaign against the threat of new tobacco and nicotine products in Kenya.
Acting director of health Patrick Amoth called tobacco and nicotine addiction one of the biggest public health threats the country has ever faced.
“The tobacco industry has developed and continues to aggressively market new and re-emerging products, such as electronic cigarettes, tobacco pouches for sucking, snuff, vaporised products and other products,” he said in a letter to Health executives in 25 counties.
The ministry said evidence from the World Health Organisation shows nicotine pouches and e-cigarettes damage the developing brains of adolescents and also cause miscarriage among other harms.
It started a comprehensive nationwide education and information campaign against the “mortal threat posed by tobacco consumption, exposure to smoke and harmful effects of tobacco growing and handling”.
Source: The Star