Kenya Scores Low In Global Anti-Smoking Index

Nov 17, 2022 - 08:57
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Kenya Scores Low In Global Anti-Smoking Index

Kenya is lagging woefully behind nations who are leading the world in using innovation to reduce deaths from smoking, a damning new report reveals.

A comprehensive global study of regulations governing alternative nicotine products finds Kenya’s lawmakers should enable easier access to vapes and nicotine pouches to cut the toll from smoking cigarettes.      

Joseph Magero, chairman of the Campaign Safer Alternatives (CASA), says of the report: “This in-depth and wide-ranging investigation shows that Kenya’s policymakers are failing in their duty to give our smokers the best tools to quit their deadly habit.

“It proves that Kenya’s regulators are unnecessarily restricting access to alternative nicotine products, such as vapes and pouches, which are proven to be 95% less harmful than combustible cigarettes and have already saved hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.

“If Kenya really wants to cut deaths from smoking and emulate the countries winning the war against the tobacco pandemic, it is essential that our policymakers read this report and remove the unscientific and unjustified obstacles to products that could help millions to quit smoking and live healthier lives.”

The report, Effective Anti-Smoking Policies Global Index, produced by the We Are Innovation network, assesses the regulatory frameworks dealing with tobacco harm reduction (THR) products in 59 countries.

It ranks those countries according to their rules on THR products in areas including prohibitions, packaging, taxation and education.

Switzerland tops the ranking, followed by UK and New Zealand, for displaying policies that best enable access to alternative nicotine products as harm reduction tools.

Switzerland scores best for good access to all THR products and the permitted advertising of them. England and New Zealand score highly for actively promoting the use of vaping products as a smoking cessation tool.

Of the 49 nations with at least one regulatory framework on THR products, Kenya ranks in the bottom half overall. In an assessment dealing with regulatory policies on nicotine pouches alone, Kenya ranks in the bottom third of nations.

The report criticises Kenyan health authorities for discouraging the use of alternative nicotine products, which the “most up-to-date scientific evidence shows … are the most effective method to abandon combusted tobacco and avoid almost all the smoking-related health harms”.

It concludes that “disseminating technical information and combating misinformation, myths and distortions about non-combusted nicotine products and nicotine itself is a fundamental responsibility that all stakeholders, both public and private, must assume”.

“Countries at the top of the index have had dramatic success in reducing their smoking rates,” says Magero.  “It’s imperative that countries like Kenya follow their lead and embrace alternative nicotine products as the lifesavers they are.

“We need public health policies that are guided and informed by the science that shows

these products’ low toxicity and high effectiveness. We need tax policies that make these products affordable to the adult smokers who require them. And we need consumers to receive evidence-based information so they can make the best choices.”

Policy Watch Africa Harm reduction through journalism-advocating for rational drug policy and human rights in Africa