WHO To Conduct Study On Cost Of Tobacco In Uganda

The World Health Organization (WHO) has trained a team of 20 researchers to carry out a health cost study on the benefits and costs of tobacco.

Dr Possy Mugyenyi, a manager at the Centre for Tobacco Control, says the two weeks training will help participants to the establish how much Uganda spends on treating Cancer patients and how much it earns from the tobacco industry.

Their research is to be carried out in hospitals, Ministries of finance and health and among the tobacco growing communities to evaluate the related costs.

Currently, Uganda loses 13,500 people to tobacco-related illnesses annually. Statistics also indicate that the Uganda Cancer Institute, which is home to most cancer patients, needs 102 billion shillings annually to treat patients. This is compared to 80 billion shillings got as direct tax from British American Tobacco (BAT), the leading tobacco product producer in Uganda.

Dr Mugyenyi says they are still in preparatory stages but the study is expected to last for a full year.

Naturally, tobacco contains nicotine before additives are included at factory level. Some of the addictives and dangerous substances in cigarettes include Ammonia, lead, Butane, Chromium, Benzene and hydrogencyanide among other dangerous chemicals.

According to the Uganda Demographic Health Survey 2011, about 15 percent of males and three percent of females between the ages of 15-49 years currently use tobacco products.

In 2011, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, Member of Parliament for Kinkiizi East, moved the Tobacco control motion on the floor of Parliament and it was seconded by his Ndorwa West counterpart, David Bahati.

Bahati says the Bill is currently with the Ministry of Finance seeking for a certificate of financial implications and hopes that within two months the Bill should be back to Parliament for its first reading.

Uganda signed and ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005 and 2007 respectively and is therefore obliged to have a comprehensive Tobacco Control Act by the end of 2012.

According to the FCTC, a comprehensive law is known to protect and promote public health. The bill is also premised on the fact that the 1995 Constitution of Uganda guarantees the right to health, right to a clean environment and a right to life.

The Tobacco Control Bill 2012 seeks to regulate the manufacture, sale, labeling, promotion, advertising, and sponsorship of tobacco products. It also seeks to regulate the distribution and public use of tobacco products, recognize, promote and protect the right to health and the right to life as fundamental human rights among others.

It further provides for the protection and promotion of the interests of tobacco growers by promoting economically viable alternative livelihoods.

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