Tobacco control lobby groups have fingered out Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria for seeking to promote consumption.
While decrying the harmful nature of tobacco products, lobbyists led by the Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA) castigated Kuria for meeting representatives of British American Tobacco (BAT).
They claimed the agenda of the meeting was to frustrate efforts to control use of tobacco products.
Speaking at a media briefing on Monday, KTCA, Consumer Information Network, International Network Legislative Affairs and National Taxpayers Association said it is insensitive for government officials to meet with tobacco industry players.
“The meeting did not meet the laid down guidelines regarding interactions between public officers and the tobacco industry. This being regarded as a direct contravention of section Five Kenya Tobacco Control Regulations (2014) and Article 5.3 of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which Kenya signed and ratified,” said the lobby groups in a joint statement read by KETCA chief executive officer Samuel Ochieng.
Kuria took to his twitter handle last week expressing his support for the tobacco industry. This was after a meeting with the managing director for British American Tobacco (BAT) Mr. Crispin Ocholla and his team.
The CS announced BAT was in the process of opening a Sh2.5 billion factory in Kenya in the coming months for the manufacturing of tobacco free oral nicotine pouches.
Kuria said the tobacco industry which contributes about 1 per cent of the country’s GDP, generates more than Sh18 billion annually.
“It is my commitment that we will fast track all the regulations required to ensure all systems go as we attract more investors into our country,” he said.
Anti-tobacco groups are however not happy with the move insisting that it will erode gains made in advocating against tobacco consumption.
“It is really worrying to see the CS challenge efforts made by World Health Organization and the Kenyan government to get farmers away from tobacco production,” said David Odhiambo.