Parliament has banned the importation and use of shisha – a water pipe tobacco delivery product common with the youth at popular social hangouts in the country.
The ban comes as Parliament, Tuesday 28th July 2015, commenced consideration of the Tobacco Control Bill, 2014, which intends to “protect the present and future generations from the devastating health, social, economic and environmental consequences of tobacco use and exposure.”
In the Bill, Parliament also banned the importation, manufacture, distribution, possession, sell, offering for sale or bringing into the country; an electronic nicotine delivery system, including the electronic vaporization device or cartridges with nicotine-containing liquid or other substances vaporized; or other substances to be used in the water pipe delivery system; and a smokeless or a flavored tobacco product.
Parliament passed the Bill, which will take effect six months after the Presidential assent.
Before the introduction of the Bill in March 2015, Members of Parliament had advocated for the banning of shisha and kuba, another chewable tobacco product, which they blamed for the increase in mental illnesses among the youth.
The Chairperson of the Committee on Health, Hon. Dr. Medard Bitekyerezo (Mbarara Municipality) said it was justified to ban shisha which is “scientifically proven to be even more dangerous than cigarette consumption.”
Parliament had twice suspended consideration of the Tobacco Control Bill as disagreements over various clauses hampered progress in the Committee of the Whole House.
The Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah asked the mover, concerned ministers and MPs with interest in the Bill to meet and agree on its contentious clauses.
The Minister of State for Health, Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi; Minister of State for Finance, Hon. David Bahati and Hon. Nandala Mafabi (FDC, Budadiri West) said the meeting was finally held, and harmonized positions on clauses of the Bill.
Parliament also banned the sale of sticks of cigarettes, cigarillos or any other tobacco product that may not be part of an intact package, so as to discourage young people from easily accessing the products.
It was also agreed that the text and pictures comprising health warnings and messages shall appear together and shall occupy no less than 65% of each principal display area of the unit packet of a tobacco product.