On 28th May 2019, the Constitutional court in Uganda ruled against British American Tobacco (BAT) industry. In a petition filled in 2016, the Tobacco Industry alleged unfair taxation, restricted adverting and other provisions enshrined Uganda’s Tobacco Control Act (TCA) that was enacted in 2015.
Tobacco advocates including UHCA, UNCHO, CEHURD, CTCA and MoH witnessed the court session and were pleased with court’s judgment that was in favor of the Attorney General. While speaking to Baguma T. Richard, Coordinator UHCA, he revealed that this was yet another global strategy BAT uses to undermine legislation of tobacco control in low developing countries. Moreover, the tobacco use scourge has continued to affect many user and nonuser. For instance, the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS2011) reported that 15.8% young women and 19.3% young men use tobacco and consequently continue to suffer from related diseases like cancer, tuberculosis, reproductive health complications and estimated 38 Ugandan deaths on a daily basis.
According to the Public Health Act, Cap 281, all local authorities are mandated to take all lawful, necessary and reasonably practicable measures for preventing the occurrence of any outbreak of prevalence of infections, communicable or preventable diseases to safe guard every individual against the harm related to tobacco use.
Justice Kenneth Kakura, read the verdict reached by the five judges of the Constitutional Court (Deputy Chief Justice Alphonso Owiny-Dollo, Justices Fredrick Engonda, Hellen Obura, Ezekiel Muhanguzi and Kenneth Kakuru) ; all agreed with the Attorney General and dismissed the petitions by BAT “The petitioners shot themselves in the foot by agreeing to some of the sections of the law.” He further emphasized the need to protect the public from the negative effects of tobacco use; the sole purpose why the TCA 2015 was designed.
The case of Uganda’s Attorney General Vs BAT was in the end dismissed with payments to the defendant.