2008-07-08 06:58:48 GMT 2008-07-08 14:58:48 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
NAIROBI, July 7 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government said Monday it will fully operationalize the Tobacco Control Bill, which prohibits smoking in public places, on Tuesday.
Public Health and Sanitation Permanent Secretary James Nyikal said in a statement issued in Nairobi that the Act would ensure that people do not smoke in public areas and workplaces.
Nyikal urged law enforcement agencies to ensure that the Tobacco Control Bill is implemented by all in public places ranging from disco halls, cinemas, offices, hospitals, factories, bars and eateries to shopping malls, public transport and residential houses.
Owners of such places should designate a smoking zone that must be well ventilated and separated from the public area, the new law stipulates.
"Let us all accept that a majority of Kenyans are non smokers and a few smokers are endangering the lives of those majority Kenyans," Nyikal said.
It is estimated that more than 5 million Kenyans (about 16 percent of the population) smoke. Nyikal also said it would be a crime to smoke in houses.
"But because we cannot get there to enforce it, we hope that the parents who smoke will be responsible enough to go and smoke outside for the sake of their own children," she added.
According to the new legislation, cigarettes will not be sold to minors less than 18 years of age and neither will they be used to sell.
"Cigarettes will not be sold in single sticks because we believe that's how the young people are getting access, they will be sold in packs of ten."
"But if ten people come up together and buy one packet and share, that is within the law, we can't do anything about it," the statement said.
Advertising of tobacco products in any medium has also been prohibited under the Act.
"We want to protect the young people because advertising is targeting them and that is not desirable. To us the advertisements look like recruitment," said the PS.
The public has also been urged to refrain from using items which are printed with logos of cigarettes, be it umbrellas, caps or T-shirts.
The aim of the Act of Parliament, which was passed in 2007, is to control the production, manufacture, sale, labeling, advertising and promotion of tobacco products.
It will also present the necessary provisions for the Tobacco Control Board to regulate smoking in specified areas.
Nyikal said that the production and consumption of tobacco is impoverishing countries around the world, by increasing health care costs for farmers, consumers and the general public.
According to statistics, Kenyans smoke more than 7 billion sticks of cigarettes every year, bought at a cost of between 21 billion shillings (about 320 million U.S. dollars) and 30 billion shillings (460 million dollars).