Tuesday the 29th of January 2013 was an auspicious day, for with it came the launch of the tobacco control campaign in Kampala. The campaign’s focus is to achieve the enactment of a comprehensive tobacco control law is Uganda.
The campaign, which is run by grantees of the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), is an undertaking of four key organisations that include: Uganda Health Communication Alliance (UHCA), Uganda National Health Consumers Organisation (UNHCO), the Parliamentary Forum on Non Communicable Diseases (PFNDC) and Text To Change (TTC).
The lead organisations have mobilised other organisations and partners to join the fight for tobacco control in Uganda. These include Uganda National Tobacco Control Association (UNTCA), Uganda Cancer Institute, National Care Centre, Mental Health Uganda, Womens’ Awareness Against Cervical Cancer (WAACC), SEPRIMI Faith Based Organisation and Ministry of Health among others.
The launch activities included a walk from the Ministry of Health Head Quarters in Wandegeya to the CHOGM gardens at the Parliament of Uganda. The walk was flagged off by Hon Sarah Achieng Opendi, the Minister of State Health (Primary Health Care). The walkers were led by the Rainbow House of Hope band that is made up of children and youth.
At the CHOGM gardens, the members were treated to entertainment sessions by Bonfire Uganda that included the theme song “Say No to save lives”, dancing by two acrobats dancing on long stilts and performed a skit on the role of Parliamentarians from tobacco growing areas.
Guests present included Members of Parliament present like Hon Benny Bugembe,Hon Nyakikongoro Rosemary, Hon Kaabule Evelyn, Hon Nakato Kyabangi, Hon Jovah Kamateeka and Hon Dr Twa-Twa Jeremiah.
Various speeches by key partners were made, but key of these included the address by Dr Hafsa Lukwata of Ministry of Health, Hon Namugwanya Benny Bugembe, the Chairperson Parliamentary Forum on NCDs, a testimony of a former tobacco user, courtesy of Mental Health Uganda, and the Key note address from Hon Sarah Achieng Opendi.
The highlights from the Minister’s speech included the fact that with the tobacco control policy, Government will routinely raise taxes so cigarettes are unaffordable to minors, build capacity of all stakeholders to enforce the prohibition of smoking in public, propose to institute effectives measures to promote cessation of tobacco use, put a comprehensive ban of all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and institute measures to provide appropriate economically viable alternatives to tobacco growers.
The Minister also appended her signature to the painting on the Tobacco Kills Uganda Say No Save Lives. This was joined by signatures from members of lead tobacco control advocates like Baguma Richard of UHCA, Robinah Kaitiritimba the Executive Director of UNHCO, Dr Hafsa of MoH, Hon Benny Bugembe, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Forum on Non Communicable Diseases and other Members of Parliament.