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Tobacco Control Bill at advanced stage

The much-awaited Tobacco Control Bill will finally be tabled in the 2018-2019 Parliament. On Monday, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness, Phillip Makgalemele told Parliament that the Bill is at an advanced stage and comments from stakeholders have been incorporated.

He said this when presenting 2018-2019 the recurrent and development budget proposals presented to the committee of supply.

With the law in place, as the Bill intends, it is meant to protect people from devastating consequences of tobacco use. Smokers will no longer smoke their cigarettes in public places as it used to be.

This means that there would be smoking areas, unlike before. If one is caught smoking in a public place, one would be fined.

Last year Dr Haruna Jibril told the media that, “The Government of Botswana in recognising that tobacco use is a health and development priority, has committed to strengthen national tobacco control laws by repealing the Control of Smoking Act of 2004 to be compliant with the WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC). The legislation shall be sent to the July session of Parliament”.

Jibril added it is undeniable that tobacco control is a development issue and its successful regulation relies on the

contributions from sectors such as commerce, trade, finance, justice, education, the media and the general public.

In other parts of the world, it has been an uphill battle for countries to pass FCTC compliant legislation as the tobacco industry played delay tactics.

The Minister of Health and Wellness, Dorcus Makgato, had promised the National Tobacco Control Conference when officially opening the event on July 10, that the Bill would be taken to Parliament during that week subsequent to Cabinet approval last year.

However, the Bill, whose purpose is to align local tobacco control efforts with the FCTC, did not go through as planned for the mid-July Parliament.

Chief health officer, Thato Sengwaketse recently said, in fact the Bill was taken to Cabinet on the said period, but there were objections on certain provisions of the draft law.

“The Bill was scheduled to go to Cabinet then and it did. Recommendations have also been made for amendments,” she said.




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