The Tobacco-Free Association of Zambia (TOFAZA) says it is disappointed with the continued delay by the government to advance the Tobacco Control Bill.
TOFAZA Executive Director Brenda Chitindi has said that the Tobacco Control Bill has been sitting with the Ministry of Health for over a decade, while Tobacco Industry Bill has been moved to the next level.
Ms Chitindi argued that this has been done despite the Tobacco Bill, Cabinet approved, being designed to only care for the success of tobacco companies, without considering the health consequences of tobacco.
She said, unlike the bill that has been forwarded to parliament, the Tobacco Control Bill is a public health bill meant to prevent deaths arising from the consumption of tobacco products.
She said this in a statement in which she also stated that the government had chosen the killer bill.
“Please take note the Tobacco Industry Bill is designed to care for the success of Tobacco Companies to succeed and kill more Zambians, beyond the current over 7,000 being killed every year,” she said.
She further argued that the Tobacco Control Bill on the other hand is a World Health Organization product to which Zambia had committed to in 2008.
“But today, the Zambian government has chosen the killer bill to be rushed through Cabinet and Parliament to which our people continue heading to the cemetery, “she said.
She noted that despite the fact that tobacco consumption kills more than 7,000 Zambians each year, it seems to be getting no attention from the government.
“For more than a decade, Zambia has struggled to domesticate the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), a treaty to help the population from devastating health of hazardous of tobacco products,” TOFAZA Executive Director said.
The Tobacco Control bill is an effective policy and programmatic intervention that most countries around the world have adopted to reduce the demand for tobacco products and protect their citizens from premature deaths, diseases and economic costs resulting from the use of tobacco products.
Ms Chitindi has advised that policymakers need to be well equipped with clear facts and well-founded arguments to counter the myths generated by the tobacco industry.
Last month, Cabinet approved for publication and introduction in Parliament during the current sitting the Tobacco Bill, 2022, together with other bills including the Public Debt Management Bill and the Road Traffic Amendment Bill, among others.
The Tobacco Bill aims to provide among others, the regulation and monitoring of the production, marketing, and packaging of tobacco in the country.
The proposed Bill also provides for the regulation of the import of tobacco in the country; the continued existence of the Tobacco Board of Zambia and re-define its functions and re-constitute the composition of the Board.