The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Kenyan court rejects industry challenge

The Kenyan High Court has rejected a challenge of the government’s new tobacco control measures by tobacco industry giant British American Tobacco (BAT) Kenya Limited.

BAT(K) Ltd had argued that the process for creating the law’s regulations was unconstitutional because it had not been adequately consulted. A High Court judge rejected that argument on 24 March, and argued that the tobacco control regulations come into force within 6 months.

'Big boost' to tobacco control

“The victory is a big boost to tobacco control in Kenya and Africa and a strong message to the tobacco industry that the time for intimidation and interference is over,” said tobacco control activist Samuel Ochieng, Chief Executive of Kenya’s Consumer Information Network.

The tobacco control law was adopted in 2007, but the industry has managed to delay its coming into force (via implementing regulations) since then. The law’s measures include:

  • Pictorial health warnings on cigarette packages;
  • 100-percent smoke-free areas;
  • Rules to prevent tobacco industry involvement in government policy-making, and
  • Requiring tobacco firms to pay the equivalent of two percent of their revenue into a fund to finance research and treatment of former smokers.

A 2010 report by another Kenyan civil society organisation, the International Institute for Legislative Affairs (ILA) noted, “The industry is an expert in mutation and adaptation … it applies both subtle and complex measures to sustain itself.”

“The industry has and will continue to oppose tobacco control,” predicted the report.

Industry interfered for years

The University of Bath has documented the industry’s lobbying against the proposed regulations in a timeline, whose first entry is dated 2011.

BAT is currently involved in another action in a Kenyan court, based on accusations that it bribed government officials in Kenya and other East African countries to undermine tobacco control legislation.

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission said earlier its month that it is investigating the claims. 

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