Kenya: NGO Petitions Parliament To Review Age Of Tobacco Users To 21

Kenya: NGO Petitions Parliament To Review Age Of Tobacco Users To 21

NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 12 – A Non-Governmental Organization has petitioned Parliament to review the minimum legal age of smoking and access to tobacco products from the current 18 years to 21.

In its legislative proposal, Tobacco Control Act Amendment Bill 2021, African Center for Corrective and Preventive Action said its enactment will boost Kenya’s fight against the use and sale of the substance in the country.

The organisation’s Executive Chairman Mwangi Macharia said it has been proven that teenagers and young adults who use the substance are more vulnerable due to the its negative health effects “since their brains are still in the development stages”.

Whereas Macharia notes that the current tobacco Act of 2007 is explicit on the regulations that should guide the sale and use of tobacco, he maintained that there is need to tighten them so as to protect the health of minors.

“Nicotine is very addictive and increasing the minimum legal access to smoking tobacco and tobacco-related products can lessen the risk that citizens will be addicted to tobacco,” he said in the petition to the National Assembly and Senate.

The tobacco Act 2007 defines key terms and covers topics including, but not limited to, restrictions on public smoking; tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and packaging and labeling of tobacco products. Other topics addressed by the law include: public education and information campaigns; sales to minors; and enforcement of the law. 

British American Tobacco Kenya (BAT) has unsuccessfully challenged the Regulations and its appeal is currently pending before the Supreme Court.

According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 8 million people die globally from tobacco use every year.

More than 7 million of those deaths are from direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

The report revealed that most tobacco-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, areas that are targets of intensive tobacco industry interference and marketing.

The grim statistics also revealed that approximately 43 million children aged 13-15 use tobacco, 14 million being girls and 29 million being boys.

The WHO report covers use of cigarettes, pipes, cigars, waterpipes, smokeless tobacco products (like cheroots and kretek) and heated tobacco products.

Kenya became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on February 27, 2005.

Short term health effects of smoking among young people include respiratory and non respiratory effects, addiction to nicotine, and the associated risk of other drug use.

Long-term health consequences of youth smoking are reinforced by the fact that most young people who smoke regularly continue to smoke throughout adulthood. Cigarette smokers have a lower level of lung function than those persons who have never smoked. Smoking reduces the rate of lung growth.

In adults, cigarette smoking causes heart disease, stroke among others.