The Ethiopian parliament on Tuesday passed what is considered the strongest tobacco control legislation in Africa that will reduce tobacco use in the country.
The Food and Medicine Administration Proclamation, passed unanimously by the parliament, will save lives and protect over 105 million people in Africa’s second most populous nation, experts say.
The new law requires 100 per cent smoke-free public and work places, bans tobacco advertising and promotions, restricts the sale of flavoured tobacco products and mandates pictorial warning labels covering 70 per cent of the front and back of all tobacco products.
The law also bans the sale of heated tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and shisha, and prohibits tobacco sales to anyone under the age of 21.
Bintou Camara, Director of Africa Programs, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids explains the impact of Ethiopia’s new law.
“As tobacco companies continue to set their sights on Africa, Ethiopia has set an example for what all African nations can and should to do curb tobacco use, the world’s leading cause of preventable death,” Ms Camara said.
Ethiopia became a Party to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on June 23, 2014.
Every year, more than 16,800 Ethiopians are killed by tobacco-caused disease, according to the Tobacco Atlas. Still, more than 18,000 children (10-14 years old) and over two million adults (15 years and above) continue to use tobacco each day.
Ms Camara said tobacco companies fight hardest against the measures they know work to reduce tobacco use in Africa and around the world,
“The Ethiopian government must now move to implement the law as swiftly as possible and remain vigilant against attempts by tobacco companies to undermine this tremendous progress.”
Tobacco use kills more than seven million people every year around the world, according to the World Health Organisation.
More than six million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while about 890,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
Nearly 80 per cent of the world’s more than one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries, including in Africa.