THE Consortium on Tobacco and Nicotine has urged government to enact the long-awaited Tobacco and Nicotine Products Control Bill to prevent further tobacco-related deaths.
Speaking to journalists in Lusaka, Tuesday, Zambia Media Network Against Tobacco chairperson Patina Phiri said the Tobacco and Nicotine Products Control Bill had been delayed for more than 10 years and was consistently derailed from being enacted into law due to powerful vested interests from the tobacco industry.
Phiri said to reverse the smoking epidemic and reduce tobacco-related deaths, Zambia urgently needed to domesticate the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) through the enactment of the Tobacco Products and Nicotine Control Bill.
“The tobacco industry has developed a number of tactics in interfering in tobacco control policies. Government needs to proactively put in place safeguards to prevent unnecessary interactions with the tobacco industry, limit necessary ones and set up disclosure products to protect public health policies. For more than 10 years, the Tobacco and Nicotine Products Bill has been delayed and derailed from being enacted into law due to various tactics from the tobacco industry and to reverse the smoking epidemic and reduce tobacco-related deaths, Zambia needs to urgently domesticate the World health Organisation Framework Convention through the enactment of the Tobacco Products and Nicotine Control Bill,” Phiri said.
She recommended that the Ministry of Finance should increase taxes on all tobacco products aimed at reducing consumption and generating revenue to support tobacco control programmes.
“Our recommendation to the Minister of Finance (Dr Bwalya Ng’andu) is that it should increase taxes on all tobacco products aimed at reducing consumption and generating revenue to support tobacco control programmes. The Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) should strengthen efforts on tobacco industry monitoring to help expose, denounce and isolate tobacco industry initiatives and ultimately save the lives of citizens,” said Phiri.
And drug/tobacco and substance control ambassador Master Chimbala said that Zambia must proactively put in place safeguards to prevent tobacco industry interference.
“From the President of the Republic, to the National Assembly, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health and every concerned government and non-government entity, Zambia must proactively put in place safeguards to prevent tobacco industry interference,” urged Chimbala.
The Ministry of Health has so far only drafted a Tobacco and Nicotine Inhalants Products Control Bill back in 2018 to effect a law that would regulate the sponsorship of tobacco products, services and their use in public and workplaces.
According to Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary for Administration Dr Kennedy Malama, who announced the development at a joint-needs assessment for the WHO’s FCTC in Lusaka two years ago, government’s desire was to have contents of the FCTC domesticated through enactment of the Tobacco and Nicotine Inhalants Products Control Bill, as tobacco intake was one of the greatest public health threats the country faced.
Zambia acceded to the WHO FCTC on May 23, 2008.