The Kenyan government will enforce the long awaited tobacco regulations, including graphic warnings, in September 2016. Kenya is also taking steps towards standardized packaging.
The new Tobacco Control Regulations, published in Kenya Gazette on 5 December 2014, were challenged in court by the British American Tobacco Kenya Ltd. In March 2016, the court ruled against the tobacco company, finding that the process of developing the regulations was constitutional and conducted with sufficient participation by the public. The court specifically noted that the Tobacco Control Regulations, which are designed to implement the Tobacco Control Act, are intended to comply with the WHO FCTC which Kenya has ratified and is obligated to implement.
The court upheld nearly all elements of the Regulations, including graphic health warnings, ingredient disclosure, smoke-free environments in streets, walkways, verandas adjacent to public places, disclosure of annual tobacco sales and other industry disclosures and regulations for limiting interaction between the tobacco industry and public health officials and other public officers. The ban on sale of tobacco products including cigarettes in single sticks will also be enforced.
In addition, the court allowed the enforcement of the Tobacco Control Fund, to which the tobacco industry is obliged to pay annually 2% of the value of tobacco products manufactured or imported. These funds will be used to support education and research related to tobacco as well as cessation activities.
On August 30, the Ministry of Health distributed a public notice to all stakeholders and general population to remind of the forthcoming enforcement of the regulations and the sanctions.
During the launch of the first Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) in Kenya on August 16, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Dr. Cleopa Mailu directed the Tobacco Control Unit to start preparing the implementation of standardized packaging.
The new regulations strengthen the implementation of the WHO FCTC in Kenya in several areas, further adding to the strong track record of Kenya in its implementation of the FCTC since its ratification (becoming a Party) in 2004.