Police doesn’t have enough work force to enforce the anti tobacco law

There is lack of sufficient police manpower to enforce the Anti-Tobbaco Law, URN has learnt. Mid this month, government announced the operationalisation of the Anti-Tobacco Law, which seeks to regulate smoking. The law makes it unlawful to sell or operate tobacco-related products or smoke a cigarette within 50 meters from any public facility or place.

The law also criminalizes smoking, importing and selling of shisha and other tobacco products like Kuber, which is packaged in green plastic sachets and sold off the counter in supermarkets. The law also criminalises buying of a stick of cigarette and only allows buying and selling a packet of cigarette.

Despite the operationalisation of the law, URN has learnt that there are only 200 officers trained under the Environmental Police Unit who have received training to enforce the Anti-Tobbaco Law. The force needs more than Shillings 4 billion to train and sensitise police officer across the country to enforce the act. Police spokesperson, Fred Enanga, says the public will have to wait until next year before police can begin enforcing the law.

According to Enanga, the officers need to study and internalize the law before they start enforcing it.

URN visited Arua Park in Kampala and spoke to some people who said they were not aware about the Anti-Tobacco law. Our reporter found several people including police officers smoking freely. Brain Mambo, a smoker told URN that he isn’t aware of the law banning smoking in public.

He said in any case if the law exists, government should designate smoking zones in public places such as parks and markets where people can comfortably smoke. Umar Kawooka, who our reporter found smoking freely outside Old Taxi Park, said he didn’t know that smoking in public has been outlawed.

Olive Namusoke, a cigarette vendor outside Kisenyi bus terminal told our reporter that she wasn’t aware that is illegal to display cigarette. She promised to abide with the law, once she gets more information.

Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi, the National focal person for Tobacco control requested the press to spread information about the law and help reduce the number of people who die due to tobacco related illnesses.

A survey conducted by the Health Ministry in 2014, shows that about 13,500 people die annually due to tobacco related illnesses.  The study also shows that 75 percent of all patients with oral cancers reported at Mulago Hospital in 2008 had a history of tobacco smoking.

Health experts say exposure to tobacco smoke causes diseases including respiratory infections and disease as oral, lung and throat cancers.