Top Kenya court dismisses British American Tobacco challenge

November 26, 2019 GMT

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya’s Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a British American Tobacco challenge to regulations that charge the tobacco industry a fee to help compensate people affected by smoking.

The regulations conform to the constitution and its goal of protecting the lives of Kenyans, the justices said.

“It is not enough for the appellant (BAT) to say that the limitations are not justifiable. The limitation has to be weighed against the larger society. There is no way regulations can be made without considering the health of the people. It is like an ostrich burying its head in the sand,” said the judgment read by Justice Njoki Ndungu.

The company had argued that the 2% fee was vague because it was not clear if it would be imposed on the raw material or the final product.

Kenya’s 2014 Tobacco Control Regulations also bar smoking in public places and make cigarette companies to put picture-based warning of the adverse effects of cigarettes on the packets and improves protections against secondhand smoke.

Tobacco advocacy groups celebrated the judgment. “The Supreme Court’s decision is a resounding victory for public health and allows the government to implement a law that will help protect Kenyans from the devastating consequences of tobacco use,” said Bintou Camara Bityeki, director of Africa programs, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Kenya, as a party to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, has international obligations to implement evidence-based measures to reduce tobacco use, Bityeki said.

The costs of treating the death and disease caused by smoking in Kenya – diseases like heart disease, lung disease and cancer – far outweigh any supposed contribution the company makes, Bityeki said.