Kenya's High Court has decided to suspend a ban on smoking in public places, which came into effect on Monday amid a lot of controversy. The court ordered that the ban be suspended for 30 days after tobacco companies questioned the health minister's authority to order such a ban.
The companies, notably British American Tobacco and Mastermind, said the ban was annpo8unced just seven days ago before it came into effect and thus they did not have much time to comply with it. They were scheduled to imprint health warnings on their products.
Health Minister Charity Ngilu argued that Kenya was following regulations laid down by the World Health Organisation. But Justice Joseph Nyamu issued the injunction until at least 30 June since the tobacco companies had a point.
The ban has caused considerable confusion with Kenyans unable to understand what a 'public' place is. If anyone were caught smoking in a public place, they would face a fine of 50,000 Kenya shillings ($700; Ģ375) or six months in prison. Director of Medical Services (DMS) James Nyikal had said last year that smoking took 12,000 Kenyan lives and a ban on smoking in public places would reduce these rates.
Uganda and Tanzania have already banned smoking in public places.