Big win for Health Ministry as BAT loses case on tobacco regulation
The High Court has adopted the proposed tobacco regulations seeking to control the manufacture, sale and advertising of tobacco products, with Judge Mumbi Ngugi directing that the regulations be effective in six months time.
The ruling is seen as a major win for the Ministry of Health, which spearheaded the development of the regulations.
Tobacco company British American Tobacco (BAT) had moved to challenge the regulations, alleging that they are in bad faith and only seek to interfere with the tobacco business.
The new regulations will among other things govern advertising for tobacco products as well as the size of health warnings on cigarette packages.
Last year, judge Mumbi Ngugi suspended the implementation of Kenya’s tobacco control regulations, citing a ‘violation of the constitution by the state’.
In June 2015, the fate of stringent tobacco regulations that were to come into force remained uncertain.
The implementation of the regulations that required tobacco firms to put graphic images on cigarette packets were dampened by a court ruling asking the government to provide a repository of all images usable by firms.
In the court case, BAT had raised objections to the laws, first faulting the rules on the grounds that they would affect their firm’s profitability, and further claiming the regulations including the exact picture models, were unclear.
The government on its part argued that the firms were wrong to anticipate a ruling’s effects before it became law.
Some of the regulations that were set to come into force include warning labels and information on the packet and a full-colour picture and pictogram with contrasting colors for the background to make it more noticeable.
In a bid to ensure enforcement of the regulations the law sought to grant powers of arrest to a wide array of officers including medical officers of health, regular and administration police officers, prison officers, local authority inspectorate officers and Kenya forest rangers.
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