On 28 May 2019, Ugandan court junked a suit filed by British American Tobacco to challenge the constitutionality of Uganda’s Tobacco Control Act which came into force in 2016.
The order recognized the tobacco companies’ tactics of thwarting policies such as smoke free, graphic health warning, and advertising bans citing its global practice of obfuscating science of harms, funding youth smoking prevention programs that are ineffective, promoting smuggling, and using trade agreements to challenge tobacco control laws.
“That is why government should curtail tobacco companies’ involvement in public health policy. Therefore, legislations like the Tobacco Control Act that seeks to protect the public from the adverse effects of the petitioner’s products (tobacco) cannot be said to be unconstitutional,” Justice Kenneth Kakuru said in his judgment.
Among the provisions challenged by BAT are the conflict of interest rules and the penalties accorded, the related two year cooling off period to prevent conflicts of interest, and the non-provision of preferential treatment given to the tobacco companies.
The Tobacco Control Act is the most comprehensive tobacco control policy ever enacted in Uganda and is the only policy in the world known to have a whole section on protecting against tobacco industry interference based on the Guidelines for the Implementation of WHO FCTC Article 5.3.
Among others, the challenged section sets out rules of conduct for public officials to ensure that dealings with the tobacco industry are necessary for regulation and transparent. This includes rejecting any form of contribution and partnerships with the tobacco industry (and those representing its interests.) The law also includes a long list of information that the government must require from the tobacco industry (including Marketing expenses)
GGTC has summarized a case study on the Article 5.3 compliance of the Ugandan law.
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