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Group claims tobacco firms played dirty under Covid-19 – Business Daily

A person smokes an electronic cigarette. PHOTO | AFP
The tobacco industry exploited the Covid-19 scourge to promote the sale of liquid nicotine and e-cigarettes contrary to provisions of the law, anti-tobacco advocates claim in a new report.
They accuse the sector of making financial contributions to the State-backed Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund in return for its products being listed as part of essential goods.
The report jointly authored by the Consumer Information Network (CIN), the Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (Ketca), and the International Institute for Legislative Affairs (IlLA), said the industry ran promotional and corporate social responsibility campaigns while at the same pushing for its products during the pandemic.
“It posed as an entity concerned with society’s health while simultaneously pushing products which exacerbate Covid-19 effects adding financial strain to health systems,” Thomas Lindi, Ketca’s national coordinator said at the release of the findings of the report.
“It is manifest that its actions were motivated at the foremost by profits and marginally by concern for the public well-being. It employed its innovation and resources to ensnare new customers for its products while attempting to sidestep health policy and regulatory mechanisms.”
An Assessment Report on the Tobacco Industry Interference with the Regulation of Novel Tobacco Products in Kenya details instances of the violation of and interference with the law beginning with the introduction of nicotine pouches in 2019.
The anti-tobacco advocates said some manufacturers applied and had the Pharmacy and Poisons Board approve their products to be sold as pharmaceutical products despite the company being aware of the fact that this was not a pharmaceutical product or a poison.
The group said the irregularity was noted in October 2020, by the Health Cabinet secretary, who formally wrote to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board demanding a comprehensive report on the criteria used and the circumstances leading to the registration of Lyft as a medicinal product.
The lobbyists said despite the sale of Lyft being proscribed until further notice by the minister, oral nicotine pouches are being sold contrary to the provision of sections 21, 22 and 23 of the Tobacco Control Act, 2007 and regulations of 2017.
“The firm approached the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in September 2020 to request a tax relief for the nicotine pouches to be manufactured at the plant,” the lobbyists said in a statement.
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