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Tobacco dealers accused of meddling

By Jeckonia Otieno | August 24th 2020

A new report has accused tobacco industry players of perpetually meddling in tobacco control efforts.

The report by Consumer Information Network (CIN) lists seven ways in which it accuses the industry of interference.

Dubbed, 2020 Tobacco Industry Interference Index, the report has called out the players for their involvement in policy development, corporate social responsibility, tax regime, unnecessary interaction, lack of transparency and conflict of interest.

Samuel Ochieng, the CEO of CIN, said industry information is still scanty. However, he said considerable effort has been made to include all publicly available information on tobacco industry interactions with public officers and authorities.

He said despite the November 2019 Supreme Court of Kenya ruling against the petition by British American Tobacco (BAT) Kenya that paved the way for full implementation of the Tobacco Control Regulations 2014, many public officers and authorities still violate regulations in their interaction with tobacco industry.

He said a number of provisions of the Tobacco Control Act 2007, including those on tobacco advertisement promotion and sponsorship, had been violated by the tobacco industry and public officers, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The listing of tobacco products as part of the essential products to be granted exemptions in the Covid-19 containment measures is an example of the consequences of the government accepting donations from the industry,” said Ochieng.

The report pointed out that the Tobacco Control Regulations 2014 prohibits the government from accepting support, or endorsing any offer of assistance or collaboration with the tobacco industry.

It also took issue with an event in 2019 where BAT was awarded the Solid Rock Commendation for Exporter of the Year Award.

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