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Kisumu stakeholders are challenging the Ministry of Health regarding proposed graphic health warnings on tobacco

By Stephen Musyoka

The participation on proposed new graphic health warnings for tobacco products kicked off in Kisumu yesterday where a section of stakeholders who turned up to share their views accused the Ministry of Health (MoH) of laziness in coming up with the proposed warnings which are to be used on packaging of tobacco and nicotine products.

The public participation exercise in Kisumu was the second for the day, with another taking place concurrently in Nyeri. The Kisumu session was however marred with delays owing to lack of venue booking by the ministry, leading to a three-hour delay in commencing the proceedings

Stakeholders took on the MoH over what they said was lack of research on the Ministry’s part in formulating the new warning, adding that there’s need to ensure that the proposed warnings conform to existing laws.

The stakeholders asked the Ministry to rethink its approach to new products being introduced in the tobacco industry which, they say, is meant to help smokers transition from the more harmful traditional cigarettes to the less-riskier modern nicotine products.

Speaking at the exercise held at the Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu Harm Reduction Society of Kenya (HRS) Secretary-General, Dr. Michael Kariuki said they need a balanced approach to this issue and the Government through the Ministry of Health needs to engage stakeholders more in a bid to ensure that the health warnings being presented are aligned to the law.

“When coming up with these graphic health warnings, relevant authorities need to check whether they are appropriate and, particularly, whether they conform to the law because some of these products also need to have other information printed on them such as their composition, warnings, and manufacturers’ emblems.” Said Kariuki.

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