Court dismisses appeal to have graphics on cigarette packs

BAT once lost a similar case. The company argued that it had no budget for the graphics.

 

Earlier, the biggest cigarette manufacturer BAT filed an appeal seeking additional nine months to implement health warnings contained in Kenya’s 2014 Tobacco Control Regulations. The regulations took effect in September last year.

In the lawsuit filed, BAT argued that it would cost approximately Sh93 million a month to print the prescribed health warnings in order to comply with the regulations, as required by law, yet they had no allocated funds for the uncertainty.

In the ruling presided over by Court of Appeal  judge David Azangla's, however, the court threw out the case Friday.

On its part, the Kenya government through the Ministry of Health’s senior counsel Mohamed Adow argued that BAT had already complied with the regulations as cigarette packets with graphic warnings are already in the market. This saw the throwing out of the case, as the applicant had already complied.

The loosing of the case by BAT is the second time, signaling mixed reactions on why the cigarette manufacturer would insist appealing despite the clarity of the law. The Kenya laws can only be amended through the parliament or by a referendum orgainised through a parliamentary siting.

In March 2016, Kenya’s High Court ruled in favour of the government over the law requiring BAT to comply with the graphics law or shut its business in Kenya, prompting an appeal at the Appellate Court.

A source who spoke to the press on condition of anonymity shortly after the historic ruling, said that the company was not seeking the intervention of any other court.

Scary graphics

Meanwhile, according to the laws passed in 2014, cigarette makers are required to “print gory anti-smoking images on all of their cigarette packets”. Many manufacturers led by BAT headed to court to challenge the measure terming it strenuous on their earlier budgets.

Additionally, the law also requires that each company manufacturing tobacco products pays a two per cent of the value of tobacco products it manufactures or imports every financial year to a kitty.

The money, the law says, will mainly be used to fund the treatment of Kenyans sickened by tobacco products.

Kenya’s Ministry of Health, the International Institute for Legislative Affairs, Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance, non-government’s Kenya Federation of Self-Help Groups (KEFSHA) and the Tobacco Control Board (TCB) have termed the win a major step in the war against tobacco arguing that the move will boost war against cancer and other non-communicable diseases.

Global ranking

Many countries across the world are now moving to the use of graphic warnings to discourage people from smoking and as well boost the fight against cancer caused by tobacco.

A recent study by an international research team at the Kenya Ministry of Health, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, and the International Institute for Legislative Affairs, the University of Nairobi, and the University of Waterloo shows that many smokers in Kenya are falling behind other countries in understanding that smoking leads to debilitating health effects, such as heart disease and stroke.

Only two-thirds of male smokers were aware that smoking causes heart disease – the second-lowest of 14 countries, higher only than China. The study said Kenyan tobacco users want more information on tobacco packages to become better informed about the harms of tobacco use.

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