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Study: Pictorial warnings should be put on all cigarette packs in Kenya

Reproductive Health - By Sophiah Muthoni

NAIROBI: Graphic warnings should be displayed on tobacco products to replace the text, says a new report.

A report on the prevalence of tobacco use indicates that Kenya's health warnings on tobacco products consist of words in English and Kiswahili, covering 30 per cent of the front and 50 per cent of the back of the packs.

According to the report, the current health warnings include 13 different messages for smoked and smokeless tobacco products, which are rotated over a 12-month period. The messages have remained the same since 2007.

The report was released yesterday. It is the product of a survey, which was done between October and December 2012 by the Ministry of Health, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), International Institute of Legislative Affairs, University of Nairobi, University of Waterloo and the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (ITC).

"The current warnings do not meet the guidelines for Article 11 of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which Kenya ratified in 2004. They are not at the top of the pack, are not at least 50 per cent of the front and back of the pack and do not include pictures," says the report.

The Ministry of Health has however, taken measures to strengthen tobacco controls by proposing a number of regulations often referred to as the 2014 Tobacco Control Regulations.

The regulations, which are yet to take effect due to a lawsuit by British American Tobacco, propose that a set of 15 rotating pictorial health warnings be put on all packages of smoked and smokeless tobacco and covering 30 per cent of the front and 50 per cent of the back of the pack.

Former Cabinet Secretary for Health James Macharia said tobacco use is the most preventable cause of non-communicable diseases, which have been on the rise in Kenya.

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