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Friday, October 23, 2009

African Lawyers Meet in Nairobi to Build Alliance for Tobacco Control Legislations

Today, a Legal Workshop for Tobacco Control Lawyers in Africa opens in Nairobi, Kenya with over 50 lawyers from over 32 countries present. The workshop, which is jointly organized by the International Legal Consortium at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) and the Africa Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) is providing the platform for discussing common concerns and issues related to tobacco control in Africa, sharing information on effective tobacco control legislation in Africa and shaping the goals, objectives and activities of the Lawyers network.
Deliberations at the meeting will be around the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which is the first global public health treaty negotiated under the auspecies of the World Health Organization for the regulation of tobacco product manufacturing, sales and promotion. The FCTC currently has 167 countries of which Africa has 40, who are parties and are obliged to fulfill the provisions of the convention.
Providing a comprehensive overview of tobacco control legislation and the FCTC, Patricia Lambert a South African, who works with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) in Washington, DC noted that “Africans played a major role in the negotiations for the FCTC. It is an African document. Now is the time to translate the powerful words of the FCTC into concrete actions in every African country” “
African lawyers must be prepared for litigation with full consciousness that the tobacco companies are not lying-down. There is no need to be afraid as the FCTC has provided the guides for ensuring successful implementation of a smoke-free Africa” says Rachel Kitonyo, Chairperson of the Africa Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA).
According to Mr. Adeola Akinremi, FCA Africa Coordinator, “This workshop is coming at the very right time for Africa bringing together lawyers at this critical time that many countries on the continent are reviewing their tobacco control legislation”
According to the WHO, “African countries are experiencing the highest increase in the rate of tobacco use amongst developing countries. In the African region tobacco consumption is increasing by 4.3 percent per year.” This development is driven in part by the tobacco industry, which increasingly targets the developing world as barriers rise and smoking rates fall in more “mature” markets around the world.
Globally, tobacco use causes one in ten deaths among adults worldwide – more than five million people a year. Unless urgent action is taken, tobacco will kill 8 million people a year by 2030, 80 percent of them in developing countries.
Countries represented at the meeting include Mauritius, Nigeria, Zambia, Burkina-faso, Lesotho, Swaziland, Kenya, Ghana, DR Congo, Gabon, Senegal, South Africa, Cameroon and Togo. Others include Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Mali, Madagascar, Niger, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Cote d’ Ivoire, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Benin, The Gambia, United States and Canada.
The Africa Tobacco Control Regional Initiative (ATCRI) promotes the adoption, implementation and enforcement of effective in-country tobacco control policies, legislation and programmes across the African continent by providing the platform for information sharing, institutional support and capacity building among all tobacco-control stakeholders.