KIGALI - The Minister of Health, Dr. Richard Sezibera on Monday, tabled before members of the Lower Chamber of Parliament a bill that will restrict smoking in public places.
The bill lists offices and office buildings, court premises, factories, cinema halls, theatres, video houses when they are open to the public; hospitals, clinics and other health institutions, restaurants, hotels, bars or other eating places as areas among which smoking should be restricted.
Several other restricted places are children’s homes, premises with commercial childcare activities, schools, places of worship, prisons, police stations and cells.
The draft law however indicates that the manager or owner of any enclosed public place and other restricted premises may provide smoking areas within such a place provided they do not inconvenience non-smokers.
The New Times set out to find out what the public thinks about the bill and compiled the following views. According to Jackson Karangwa a trader, the bill is all he has been waiting for and that he is looking forward to see it being passed.
“It’s true that a person chooses how to live, but it’s not right when this person decides to make others uncomfortable…so, to me parliament should go on and pass the bill to save us from public smokers,” said Karangwa.
“People who smoke in public are an inconvenience, I don’t think its right for a person to stand in a public place and start smoking without caring about the health of those who don’t smoke. I think the bill should be passed,” said Godfrey Rukundo, driver.
“I don’t smoke, but I equally don’t have any problem with smokers. So it’s up to the lawmakers to see what is good for the public, and the effects the ban could inflict on the country in terms of taxes from the tobacco trade,” John Kamari, a businessman, said.
“I have complained about people who smoke in public almost my entire life. Apart from the smoke suffocating me, I know that it is dangerous to my health, which makes me support that bill,” said Helen Kayitesi, a shop attendant in Remera.
“To me, if the bill went ahead and got passed, it would be some kind of denial of human rights. You can’t expect me to rush off to a designated area to smoke, what if there is no designated smoking place nearby? I think it is just not right,” said one Richard Mugabo a waiter.
“I wouldn’t care about whatever decision they made concerning smoking in public because even though I smoke, I don’t support smoking around a crowd because it is generally not good,” Jean Paul Hareramungu a student at ULK.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Sharon Haba, supported the bill and said that it would reduce the number of school-going children who smoke.
Research results, carried out in Rwanda show that 58.9 percent start smoking between the age of 11 and 15.
“When young school-going children see people smoke in public, they think it is fashionable, hence copying it.
So I think the bill will be helpful in that context,” said Haba
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) report, the global population of smokers is in the range of about 1.1 billion, with 800 million, an equivalent of 80 percent, live in less developed countries.