Early this month the Parliamentary Forum on Non-Communicable Diseases (PFNCD) convened to discuss the need to pass the Tobacco Control Bill. The Bill that was tabled in parliament early this years is still pending because of tobacco industry interference.
Latest research (GATs 2014, GATs 2011), has unveiled that tobacco use is reducing among adults (7.9%) but on the raise among the youth (17%). Members of Parliament specifically those on the PFNCD, were unhappy with the news and agreed to double their effort in curbing the situation. “This is tragic, fellow MPs we have to do something about this, because if we don’t then we may not have future leaders,” one of the members on the committee lamented.
Uganda is out of step with other East African countries such as Tanzania and Kenya which have enacted tobacco control law.
Any avid reader of the print media in the past few months will have noticed a sustained campaign against the proposed Tobacco Control Bill 2011, perpetrated by the Ugandan tobacco industry.
The Uganda Tobacco Control Bill 2011 was initially presented before parliament in December 2011 as a private members bill by Dr Chris Baryomunsi. Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah referred the bill back for re-drafting.
Tobacco control advocates in Uganda organized a public campaign to sensitize people on false and deceitful information used by the tobacco industry to convince and interfere
with the ongoing legislation (Tobacco Control Bill ) in the country.
Uganda health communication Alliance, Text-To-Change and Uganda National Health Consumers’ Organisation (UNHCO) partnered to stage the campaign as a National Day of Action for the Tobacco Control Bill.
The mass sensitization focused on giving factual information about the damages of tobacco use but also, shunning the irresponsible behavior and action by the tobacco industry in the public eye.
Uganda joined the rest of the world as it commemorated World No Tobacco Day.
Ugandan government in conjunction with tobacco control advocates celebrated the day by holding a media conference.
Government representatives from the Ministry of Health (MoH) together with civil society cooperated towards increasing awareness about the dangers of tobacco-use, particularly on how increase in tax will result into a drastic improvement in the fight against curb dangers related to the use of tobacco products in the country.
The ministry of Health argues that an increase in tax usually forces smokers to quit; it reduces the uptake and use of tobacco products by the youth; and it ultimately lowers consumption rates among continuing users.As the minister of Finance prepares to read this year’s national budget on Thursday, the ministry of Health has called for an increase in taxes on tobacco in order to cut down on smoking and reduce thousands of health complications that tobacco causes each year.
Tobacco control advocates in Africa have been called upon to design effective media campaigns to confront the barrage of misinformation pedaled by the tobacco industry.
The call was made by the WHO Country Chief for Uganda, Dr Alemu Wondimagegnehu during a regional workshop on “Developing Effective Tobacco Control Media Campaigns” held in Kampala- Uganda. The workshop organized by the Center for Tobacco Control Africa (CTCA) and World Lung Foundation (WLF) attracted participants from 6 countries. They include;