Kikinzi East Member of Parliament Dr. Chris Baryomunsi has stressed that the fact that Tobacco is not the only cause of cancer will not stop parliament from enacting a law controlling the use of this dangerous product.
This follows submissions by the tobacco manufacturers to the health committee of parliament currently collecting views of stakeholders on the proposed draft tobacco Control bill. Baryomunsi moved a private members bill that seeks regulate the tobacco industry.
Officials from the British American Tobacco that submitted amendments in the tobacco Control Bill 2014 indicated that the proposed law is not necessary since there over 10 others causes of cancer.
However basing on his medical background, the passionately speaking Baryomunsi vowed to stick to his guns to ensure that tobacco consumption in Uganda is controlled through legislation since tobacco is a scientifically proved to be a major threat to human health.
“We are not saying tobacco is not the only cause of cancer, there other causes, it requires making legalizations for those other cause so be it”-Baryomunsi.
Dr. Baryomunsi adds that the mere fact that there other substances which cause cancer cannot justify failure for parliament to pass a legislation on tobacco.
He stresses that it is known for a fact that tobacco is one of the leading causes of death today.
“People who die as a result of tobacco related complications outnumber those who die of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, tuberculosis, accidents, and suicide combined. Tobacco kills much more people”-Baryomunsi said.
He further noted that in Uganda here every year we lose about 13500 people due to tobacco so the evidence is overwhelming.
The seemingly determined lawmaker said that players in the Tobacco industry may use all sorts of tactics to frustrate the enactment of this important piece of legislation, him as an individual lawmaker is not ready to give in.
They may use money as bribes to stakeholders but that will depend on the individual conscience of MPs.
The parliamentary health Committee Chairperson Dr Kenneth Omona assured that the country that the lawmakers on this committee will careful scrutinize the bill and submissions from different stakeholders in order to come up with a good law on tobacco consumption.
The committee is currently receiving public views on the tobacco Control Bill 2010 and so far there are a number of amendments being proposed by different stakeholder.
Dr.Omona mentions the case of controlling smoking as one provision that people want to be amended where it is suggested in the bill that smoking should be done from about 500 meters away from the public place.
“the argument is that this provision tantamount to actually banning smoking because it is not very common that in this city you can find a place 500 meters away from one public place, so as you move 500 meters from one public place you are actually overlap another public place”-Dr Omona .
Dr. Omona says according to stakeholders this provision is not practical, it is not enforceable, it tantamount to banning of smoking.
The chairperson said that one of the issues the committee is receiving from the stakeholders is that the bill should be amended to reduce the distance from a public place where one smoke.
Meanwhile the bill has overwhelming support from the civil society organization dealing in health related activities and the East African Centre for Tobacco Control, because tobacco reduces people’s life span. A similar piece of legislation has been enacted in other African Countries like the neighbor Kenya, Rwand, Chad, and Gabon