Ethiopia: parliament passing one of the strongest tobacco control legislations in Africa

The Parliament of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, on 5 February 2019, passed unanimously a new public health legislation on food and medicine administration. The new law covers tobacco products, and its relevant sections aim to protect the public from the devastating health, social, and economic consequences of tobacco products. The measures the law foresees to regulate tobacco products are considered among the strongest tobacco control legislations in Africa.

The new law requires public and work places to be 100% tobacco-free. It is also prohibited to manufacture, import or sell electronic nicotine delivery systems, heated tobacco products, and flavored tobacco products.

In addition, the new law addresses the packaging and labelling issues and requires pictorial health warnings covering at least 70% of the front and back sides of tobacco products. Other measures required by the law include a ban on all direct or indirect tobacco product advertising, promotion and sponsorship and a restriction on the sale of tobacco products to persons under the age of 21.

The WHO FCTC was ratified by Ethiopia in 2014. The approval of the new legislation is in line with the requirements of a number of WHO FCTC Articles, including Article 8 (Protection from exposure to tobacco smoke), Article 11 (Packaging and labelling of tobacco products), Article 13 (Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship) and Article 16 (Sales to and by minors) among others, and provides a solid foundation for strengthening tobacco control in the country.

Additional measures are related as well to the implementation of Articles 9 and 10, regulating the disclosure to the government of the ingredients and emissions of tobacco products, and the ban of characterizing flavors, additives associated with energy or vitality, and the addition of colorants to change the color of tobacco smoke. Moreover, interactions of government officials with the tobacco industry are regulated, following the recommendations of the Guidelines for implementation of Article 5.3 of the Convention.

The new law also corresponds to the recommendations of the needs assessment mission that was conducted jointly by the Convention Secretariat and the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia in 2015. The assessment report specifically highlights the need for 100% smoke free indoor public places and for a ban on the sale of tobacco products to minors. The factsheet of the needs assessment is available here.


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