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Bar owners oppose new tobacco laws

By Dominic Omondi | July 26th 2015

Bars and restaurants owners are up in arms against the gazetted Tobacco Control Regulations, which require them to provide designated smoking zones for their clients.

The regulations were recently suspended by the High Court.

They have drafted a petition to Parliament listing their grievances. Through their lobby, Pubs and Restaurants Association Kenya, the managers and owners of restaurants fear losing revenue if smokers stay away due to the harsh conditions.

Association’s Chief Executive Lillian Kalela said the regulations will increase cost of doing business. “Most of the pubs and restaurants are on rented buildings. It is going to be difficult to convince landlords to agree to build the special smoking room,” she noted.

She argued that securing a building is going to be expensive. The association estimates that the smoking area will cost a bar about Sh3 million. “This is so expensive, even for big restaurants,” said Kalela. “Moreover, there is just no space for people to build those rooms,” she said.

Doing business

The lobby says the regulations will up the cost of doing business given that they have already incurred losses due to insecurity.

The lobby argues pubs and restaurants are already required to have many licences before starting a business. These include occupation health and safety regulations, staff health certificate, single business permit, NEMA impact assessment. Others are VAT/PIN, certificate of registration, Certificate of workplace, Fire inspection certificate, liquor license among others.

The regulations captured in Section 35 of Tobacco Control Act of 2007 require “the manager or owner of a prohibited smoking area to provide within such a place” a specially designated smoking area that is ventilated so as not to allow the air to re-circulate to the prohibited area but drift outside.

Ordinarily, smokers visiting bars and restaurants are directed to certain designated smoking areas but the National Tobacco Control Board argues that such smoke gets inhaled by non-smokers nearby.

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