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The Kenya Tobacco Control Board (TCB) is established under Section 5 of the Tobacco Control Act, 2007. This Act is the principal legal instrument that governs tobacco control in Kenya. The establishment of this law was a culmination of a process that started after Kenya ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). The TCB is housed under the Ministry of Health, Department of Public Health.

The Mandate of the Tobacco Control Board:

The following are the board’s mandates as spelt out under Section 6 of the Act:

  1. advise the Minister on the national policy to be adopted with regard to the production,
    manufacture, sale, advertising, promotion, sponsorship, and use of tobacco and tobacco products;
  2. advise the Minister generally on the exercise of his powers and the performance of his functions
    under this Act, and in particular to –

    1. recommend to the Minister the permissible levels of the constituents of tobacco products or
      their emissions required to be prescribed under section 4(a);
    2. advise the Minister on the harmful constituents and ingredients of tobacco products required
      to be prohibited under section 4(b);
    3. assist the Minister in determining the test methods to be used in testing tobacco products and
      their emissions in order to test conformity with the requirements of this Act and any
      regulations made there under;
    4. advise the Minister on the information that manufacturers shall provide, including information
      on tobacco products and their emissions; sales and advertising data, and information on
      product composition, ingredients, hazardous properties, and brand elements required to be
      provided under section 4(c);
    5. advise the Minister on the labeling, packaging, sale, distribution, promotion, or advertising
      of tobacco products;
  3. advise the Minister on matters relating to the administration of the Fund;
  4. recommend to the Minister and to participate in the formulation of the regulations to be made
    under section 53;
  5. perform such other functions as may, from time to time, be assigned by the Minister.

Global Outlook

Tobacco use and exposure is a global epidemic that Kenya and the world at large are addressing to save millions of lives that are at risk of being lost. As per WHO data, half of the tobacco users, about 8 million people die each year as a result of direct and indirect tobacco use. By 2030, this death toll is expected to rise to 10 million, and 70% of these deaths will occur in developing nations.

In order to respond to this global epidemic and mitigate the situation, WHO Member States adopted the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in 2003. This treaty is evidence-based, it reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health, to date 182 countries have ratified this treaty, Kenya included.

The Kenyan Context

The Stepwise Survey for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) risk factors 2015 indicated that Kenya’s smoking prevalence was at 13.3%. This widespread presence is higher with a margin of 2 % than what the 2014 GATS survey found. One in ten Kenyans smoke tobacco, 3.6% use smokeless tobacco daily, and 8.3% of Kenyans smoke.

These statistics being reported during an era in which Kenya has ratified the WHO FCTC and made several initiatives to domesticate the treaty locally without a doubt show that Kenya is grappling with a tobacco epidemic just like the world is.

Consumers of tobacco and the general public at risk of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke are at risk of contracting fatal diseases and conditions that will kill half of the direct users at their prime. Mark you, the Government of Kenya would have incurred Ksh. 21 billion in treating these tobacco-related conditions which is three times the revenue earned from tobacco.

History of Tobacco in Kenya

The growth of the tobacco industry in Kenya can be traced back to the year 1907 when tobacco farming was introduced. Although this industry has recorded a huge growth over the years, it has brought a bag of mixed tidings.

Effects of Tobacco Farming

Where tobacco farming is done especially in Nyanza and the Western Regions of Kenya, the farming communities in these areas have borne the brunt of this venture. They hardly get returns; their environment has been degraded and is exposed to health risks. Data from the Ministry of Health estimates that 60% of patients treated in health facilities in tobacco-growing areas of Kenya suffer from tobacco-related ailments.

Legal Instruments for the localization of WHO FCTC in Kenya

It is against this backdrop that the Government of Kenya has developed and implemented various legal instruments such as the Tobacco Control Act, 2007 which is the principal law governing tobacco control in Kenya. From this Act, the Kenya Tobacco Board was created and its functions among others include advising the Minister in charge of Health on the national policy to be adopted with regard to the production, manufacture, sale, advertising, promotion, sponsorship, and use of tobacco and tobacco products.

Word From the ps

Ministry of Health

“Data from the Ministry of Health indicates that sensitization and awareness programs by the Kenya Tobacco Control Board on use and exposure to tobacco products in Kenya are delivering the desired impact as 53.7 % of Kenyans says they have interacted with these awareness programs”, Principal Secretary for Health Susan Mochache.

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