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Increase minimum legal sale age of tobacco, Government urged

A non-governmental organization based in Murang’a County has appealed to parliament to enact a law that would increase the age limit on initiation to cigarette smoking from 18 to 21 years.

African Centre for Corrective and Preventive Action (ACCPA) is currently working on a memorandum to be presented in the senate and national assembly, seeking to bar teenagers from being introduced to tobacco smoking.

Executive director of the lobby group, John Macharai said that tobacco manufacturers usually target teenagers to sell their products arguing that when one starts smoking it’s hard to abandon the habit.

“When teenagers are initiated to smoking and get addicted, it’s very hard to quit the habit. This is the reason we want our young people to be protected by law from being introduced to smoking,” said Macharia.

He stated that cigarette smoking should be contained as tobacco has many far reaching negative effects to human health.

Macharia said within a period of two weeks, they will present their memorandum to the national assembly and the senate seeking to tighten the already existing laws governing tobacco smoking in the country.

Speaking Monday as the country marked the World No tobacco Day, the director said they will also engage other stakeholders, especially county governments to formulate laws which will help contain consumption of tobacco in the country.

“Currently, tobacco contributes close to 8,000 deaths in the country annually. Tobacco is among major causes of cancer and as a country we need to completely minimize tobacco consumption,” he stated.

Macharia continued, “Tobacco is like poison. Our government should not be compromised by producers and manufacturers of tobacco products. The country should be tobacco free.”

Speaking during the same occasion, Dr. Inyathiu Kibe cited many ailments which are caused by tobacco consumption.

Kibe said the plant has more than 14 chemicals which are all harmful to the human body, noting that concerted efforts are needed to contain cigarette smoking especially among young people.

“Tobacco contributes 16 percent of all cancer cases. The product also leads to malformation of newborns.  Smoking or consumption of tobacco in the country should be illegal. The cost of treating cancer patients by far outweighs the revenue raised from selling tobacco products,” Kibe further explained.

The medic further castigated multinational companies which major in tobacco products saying they use Africa to grow and process tobacco products, while leaving out developed nations.

“We need to make a decision as a country and totally ban tobacco farming and selling of its products. Tobacco smoking usually leads to the introduction of consumption of other hard drugs,” added Kibe.

He observed that there was general relaxation of laws which were earlier enacted to contain smoking in public places, adding that only a few people adhere to those regulations nowadays.

By Bernard Munyao

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