African Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) have commended Kenya for the steps it has taken in curbing the illicit trade in tobacco products. During the recently concluded meeting of the WHO African Region convened in Algiers, Algeria, Kenya demonstrated the use of the Excisable Goods Management System (EGMS) in helping track the distribution of tobacco products.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), which has been implementing the system, successfully demonstrated the capabilities of the system to detect illicit and counterfeit goods that are deemed harmful to consumers.
Through the EGMS system the Kenyan delegation was able to showcase the use of excise stamps to verify products at all levels of the supply chain by enabling consumers to verify the authenticity of products through a Quick Response (QR) code smartphone application. In 2005 WHO introduced the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) classifying Tobacco as a harmful and addictive substance that needs to be monitored and controlled. In this regard all 180 WHO member states are required to actively participate in the control and restriction in the use of Tobacco and Tobacco products.
Previously Kenya won two international awards from WHO and Tax Stamp Forum in 2014 and 2015 respectively for implementing an EGMS System.
The Kenya delegation was led by Kenya’s Ambassador to Algeria, Amb. Moi Lemoshira who was accompanied by representatives from various sectors of the Government including Health, Treasury, State Department for Interior, Foreign Affairs, Kenya Revenue Authority and the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
In his remarks Amb. Lemoshira reiterated Kenya’s commitment to the fight against tobacco consumption and highlighted legislative, administrative and technological measures that the country has undertaken to control use and sale of tobacco.
Representatives of the various African Governments agreed to lobby for Kenya to become a centre of Excellence in the fight against illicit trade before the Conference of Parties. Kenya which is a Bureau member for the African Region and Vice-president to WHO-FCTC COP7 is in a unique position to act as a WHO centre of excellence.
Tobacco is a leading cause of death in the world and a common risk factor for non-communicable diseases. It is responsible for more than 6 million deaths attributed to the annual consumption of tobacco with 600,000 of these deaths occurring among non-smokers exposed to second hand tobacco smoke.
According to WHO, the tobacco industry has concentrated its efforts in market expansion in the least and medium developed countries following reduced prospects in developed countries where tobacco controls are more stringent.
The Member states of the WHO African region had convened in Algiers, from 10-13th October 2016, for a preparatory meeting ahead of the seventh session of the Conference of Parties (COP 7) to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) scheduled to be held on 7th -21st November 2016 in New Delhi, India.
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