Members of the Health Committee of parliament have clashed over some provisions in the Tobacco control bill. The proposed law seeks to regulate the production of Tobacco products, sponsorships, advertising and their distribution to the public.
On Wednesday, the committee members met to scrutinize the bill before it is tabled before parliament. During the discussions, Chris Baryomunsi, who moved the bill suggested any person convicted under the law should also bear the costs of destroying the product.
Baryomunsi who was supported by Femiar Wadada, the Sironko District Woman MP argued that, since the law seeks to deter people from affecting the health of Ugandans, the culprits should foot the bill of destroying the impounded products.
Clause 15 (9) of the Tobacco Bill states that, in addition to a penalty of not less than one thousand currency points , court shall order the seizure, forfeiture or destruction of any prohibited material at the cost of the offender.
However, Medard Bitekyerezo, the Mbarara municipality MP disagreed with the proposal requiring the offender to meet the cost of destroying the product saying it may not be practical.
He suggested that this particular proposal should be deleted and left the cost of destroying the illegal products to the discretion of court.
In its current form, the bill criminalizes the display of tobacco products at Hospitals, clinic educational institutions, places of worship, prisons, police, public transport, cinema and sports stadia amongst others.
It states that, anyone who displays tobacco adverts in prohibited areas is liable to a fine of not less than Ugx 20 million or imprisonment for a whole year. The bill also recommends the suspension of the license of the implicated company for at least six months.
The committee which is chaired by Kenneth Omana, the Kaberamaido country MP passed the proposal that Managers or director of tobacco companies should personally be liable for advertising in restricted areas.