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Government warned against using taxpayers’ money to build smoking zones : The Standard



One of the public smoking zones in Nairobi ( PHOTO: Standard)

NAIROBI, KENYA: An anti-tobacco lobby group now wants the government to increase taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA) also warns that public funds must not be used to construct smoking zones.
KETCA chair Joel Gitali said that the government must not burden taxpayers with taxes on money transfer among other essential charges.
“Increasing taxes on tobacco products will not only add more revenue to the exchequer but also save many lives from the effects of tobacco smoking,” said Gitali.

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KETCA wants owners of social places to take up the responsibility of setting up smoking zones as stipulated by the Tobacco Control Act (2007).
Gitali argued, “If public funds are used to build smoking zones, then a bad precedence will have been set where every manufacturer will start demanding for the public to fund construction of areas where their products will be consumed.”
Tobacco control in Kenya has been an endless war pitting tobacco companies and anti-tobacco advocates with a court case that is ongoing at the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal ruled that the tobacco guidelines should be implemented.
Gitali claims that the war in the corridors of justice is being pushed by tobacco companies to delay implementation of guidelines for as long as possible. 
The Kenyan government has in place a policy on tobacco cessation which stipulates that people seeking to stop tobacco use can get help from public health facilities.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that in Kenya about 31,000 people die from tobacco-related complications every year.
Kenya is yet to ratify the protocol on ending illicit tobacco trade despite having signed it and Gitali says this is negatively hampering on the war against tobacco as illicit tobacco finds its way into the market. 
The body also urged the government to put in place measures to ensure tobacco companies are forced to pay reparations for damage caused by tobacco.


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