Stakeholders reject tobacco graphic health warnings


Mark Oringaa gives his views during a heated public participation debate on tobacco graphic health warnings. [Michael Mute, Standard]

Stakeholders have rejected the proposed graphic health warnings for tobacco products.

They claimed the graphic content used by the Ministry of Health portrayed dirty content and was against the law.

They told the Ministry of Health to focus more on a packaged scientific engagement to help increase knowledge about the risks associated with tobacco use instead.

Speaking during a public participation baraza, the chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce, Kisumu branch Israel Agina, accused the government of using scary images instead of passing relevant information.

Agina said there is a need for the Ministry of Health to make certain corrections to the graphic warnings.

“We cannot want our businesses to be ruined because of the things they are currently showing to the public. We have warned them and told them not to use graphics to scare tobacco smokers. Let them use the correct graphics to preach the genuine messages to tobacco users,” said Agina.

The health ministry yesterday started receiving public views on the controversial new graphic health warning that cigarette makers will be required to display on the packs of nicotine products.

The public participations were also held in Nyeri and similar sessions will be held in Embu and Kakamega. Similar meetings will be held in the country next week.

The new rules will require tobacco manufacturers to display graphical health warnings covering 80 percent of the packaging of cigarettes, nicotine pouches, and e-cigarettes as it seeks to sensitize the public to the dangers of smoking.

Boniface Gachoka who is the secretary general Bar Owners Association, Kisumu branch claimed there was lot of laziness from the Ministry of Health.

Mr Gachoka claimed those graphics had not passed through data protection rules.

He also accused the Ministry of Health of paying some individuals to come and support the graphics, yet people were very serious about the conversation to increase knowledge about tobacco.

He noted that some images from the Ministry of Health are explicit even for the children casting doubts in our minds.

Public health expert and secretary general of Harm Reduction Society of Kenya Dr Michael Kariuki said there were graphic warnings that were inappropriate and others that needed revision.

He said that there was a need for acceptable images that conform to the law and are of appropriate size.

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