Uganda’s Tobacco Control Act comes into force on 19th of May 2016

Uganda’s Tobacco Control Act comes into force on 19th of May 2016

This 19th of May 2016 is the day the Tobacco Control Act No. 22 enters into force. The same was passed by Parliament on the 28th of July 2015, assented to by the president on the 19th of September 2015 and gazetted in the Uganda Gazette No 67 Volume CVIII dated 18th November 2015.  


After publication in the Uganda Gazette, Ugandans waited for six months for the Tobacco Control Act (TCA) to come into force as is stipulated in its section 1. Ugandans shall further have to wait for a complete year from commencement date for manufacturers, suppliers, retailers or importers or exporters of Tobacco products to comply with the requirements as is decreed in section 47 of the Act, this is called the transition provision.

In as far as tobacco regulation is concerned, the Tobacco Control Act is second to none, conversely, section 49 provides that ‘Any law existing immediately before the coming into force of this Act relating to tobacco products shall have effect subject to such modifications as may be necessary to give effect to this Act; and where any such law conflicts with this Act, the provisions of this Act shall prevail.’  


This public health law waives charges on any notices displayed for the operation of the provisions of the Act, as it states in section 50 thus: All notices displayed by the operation of this Act shall not attract any charges by government. This section allows happening places to innovatively advertise their locations disguising them as Notices serving that purpose.


Public conscious persons either working as civil servants or in private sector who make a complaint, report, disclose or oppose any conduct, activity or practice that could reasonably be construed as a violation of a provision of this Act, regulation or policies or those that took a legal action, assisted or participated in investigations all pursuant to the Act or applicable law are protected from retaliation by the Act under section 48.    

Section 10 of the Act also provides safe guards for persons indulging in implementation of the law as it protects them from liability thus: “An employee of the secretariat or any other person acting on behalf of the committee shall not be held personally liable in respect of any act or omission done in good faith in the performance of his or her duties under this Act.”


This section calling on the dictates from the supreme law of Uganda espoused in article 39 that calls on Ugandans to enjoy their right to a clean and healthy Environment. Read with article 50 of the Constitution that gives audience to any person whose right has been violated can access court for any remedy including compensation, article 50 clause 2 empowers any public conscious persons to access court in the event a right has been violated not that one must have a cause of action to access court.


It is against this background that I opine that this is a citizen empowering law gifted for public health promotion, much as section 26 (1) of the Act enjoins the minister of health by notice in the gazette to appoint a person or class of persons to be authorised officers for the purpose of the Act, if read with section 12 (2) bars persons smoking in any outdoor space that is 50 meters away from public or that designated a non-smoking area by the owner of the premises; subsection 4(a)(b)(c) empowers persons responsible for the public place to order those contravening the section to immediately cease smoking, on refusing, leave or disembark from means of transport of cause his arrest;  where of course as trays or other items that suggest smoking; provides the meaning of the framers to rid of Uganda this mischief.   


Uganda National Health User’s/ Consumer’s Organisation (UNHCO) and Uganda Health Communications Alliance held a media dialogue on the 11th of May 2016 as a key pre- commencement activity at Arch Apartments Hotel located in Ntinda a Kampala suburb. The Ministry of Health shall officially launch the Tobacco Control Act on the 31st of May 2016 as Uganda Joins the world to celebrate the World No Tobacco day. The function shall show case an array of activities by tobacco control CSOs and like partners in Uganda and abroad.


The International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung disease on the 28th of July 2015 while congratulating the Ministry of Health said “The Ugandan Parliament passed a law on 28 July that brings Uganda into line with the strongest tobacco control policies around the world.”

Level 3 (XP: 950)
To shortcut the notion: Uganda has good laws but poor at implementing them; its imperative on us to create a society that is self policing so as to kick involuntary tobacco exposure out of Uganda especially from the non suspecting public!
Level 18 (XP: 16400)
It is a great moment for Ugandans. Nobody should be subjected to another person's dangerous habit. In my youth, no effort was expended on public education about the hazards of smoking. Today, with the extensive literature on primary and second-hand tobacco smoking, we have a duty to educate the younger generations and save them from the longterm pain that awaits those who indulge in sucking on that and other weeds. Thank you Moses for the work you are doing in this regard.

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