Kenya will become a model nation to other countries if it can effectively enforce the smoking ban which the lawmakers of the land propose. Under the new law, smoking is banned in public places and regulating the sale of tobacco products in Kenya is due to take effect nationwide within hours, an official said Monday.
Public Health Minister Beth Mugo said the Tobacco Control Act, passed in August 2007 but given a nine-month implementation period prior to Tuesday's passing into law, is aimed at protecting public health.
"Let us all accept that a majority of Kenyans are non-smokers and a few smokers are endangering the lives of those majority Kenyans," Mugo told reporters.
The ban will affect office blocks, working areas, court buildings, education institutions, residential areas, places of worship, police stations, prisons, markets, malls, cinemas and theatres, children's homes and playing fields.
But it allows restaurant and pub owners to create well-ventilated places for smokers.
The new law bans the sale of cigarettes to people under 18 years and selling tobacco in a packet of less than 10 cigarettes. It also forbids promoting tobacco by sponsoring sports, cultural, educational or entertainment activities and branding of buildings other than those owned or leased by manufacturers.
In 2003, the government issued a policy that banned smoking in public places, but it failed because it lacked a legal mechanism for enforcement, officials said, adding that the current law had legal teeth.
Last year, local authorities in the capital Nairobi and the regional town of Nakuru banned smoking in public.
Smoking earns the Kenyan government about five billion shillings (76 million dollars or 49 million euro) a year in taxes, but costs five times as much in disease, disability and death, according to official figures.
Under the new law, offenders will be fined between 50,000 shillings and three million shillings, with jail sentences of between six months and three years also enviseaged for the most serious offences under the law.