Tobacco Industry Interference in Kenya: Exposing the Tactics (2012)

Executive Summary

The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in its preamble recognizes ‘…the need to be alert to any efforts of the tobacco industry to undermine or subvert tobacco control efforts and the need to be informed of the activities of the tobacco industry that have a negative impact on tobacco control efforts.’ In Article 5.3 the FCTC goes on to urge parties to protect public health policies relating to tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.

This report is the first step for Kenya towards achieving the spirit of the FCTC in relation to the tobacco industry. The overall objective of this assessment is to better understand the TI presence, operations and tactics in Kenya as well as the policies and structures that exist in relation to countering tobacco industry interference.

Section one of the report provides a background with a brief situational analysis of the status of the country in so far as tobacco control is concerned. It recognizes that the country signed and ratified the FCTC and domesticated the same through the Tobacco Control Act of 2007, and has gone ahead to develop a National Tobacco Control Action Plan (NTCAP) for the period 2010- 2015. These are clear indications of the Government’s commitment to tobacco control. This section then provides a brief on the objectives of this assessment and the methodology used to collect the data.

Section two gives an outline of tobacco farming, manufacture & trade and their impact on the country. We get to see that the total acreage covered by tobacco represents only 0.5% of the total arable land in Kenya. We also find out the estimated numbers of tobacco farmers and how they are linked to the tobacco companies as well as the socio- economic impact of tobacco farming including poverty, child labour and the health complications arising from tobacco farming.

Under manufacture the report indicates that while there is an increase in the overall production, the dominance previously enjoyed by the British American Tobacco Kenya Limited (BATK) has been broken with the entry and growth of Mastermind Tobacco Kenya Limited (MTK). We also see that the consumer market in Kenya is continuously being flooded with locally manufactured tobacco products as well as imports in equal measure. These products range from smoke to non smoke and their real (as opposed to nominal) prices are actually reducing making them more affordable and accessible to the greater population; especially the youth who are the main targets of the industry.

We also get to understand the contribution of this business to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and revenues collected.

Section three interrogates the activities/ tactics and targets of the tobacco industry including Tobacco Advertising Promotion & Sponsorship (TAPS), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), interference with policy and legislative processes, intimidation & litigation, use of front groups, smuggling and illicit trade of tobacco products.

In section four we get to understand the FCTC Article 5.3 implementation in the country by looking at the stakeholders in tobacco control and their specific roles, existing Government structures that address TI interference and the efforts that have been put in place to hold the industry accountable to its activities. It is clear from this section that TI information is inaccessible and sharing of the same is done on an ad hoc basis, creating a challenge in countering the industry tactics both by the Government and the other relevant stakeholders.

Finally section five provides some conclusions and recommendations to the Government and other stakeholders for better understanding of the Tobacco Industry that will facilitate countering of their activities and effective implementation of Tobacco Control in Kenya.

Read more: International Institute for Legislative Affairs (ILA)