The Anti-smoking legislation was, last year, in and out of Parliament and 2010 ended without any final decision taken by the house.
The bill, that seeks to restrict smoking in public places, is spearheaded by the Ministry of Health, and should, this year, be considered among the priorities for the House
The banning of smoking in public places is mostly driven by the long established dangers of second hand smoke to innocent by-standers. That passive smoking causes heath related complications including, heart disease, stroke and even heart attacks, is no longer in doubt.
Indeed, there should be concern about the costs of smoking. Public health care costs are already high, and costs that result from increasing numbers of people using harmful tobacco products including cigarettes, can be brought down if the habit is restricted.
People who smoke in public remain not only an inconvenience but a grave health hazard. It is unacceptable for a person to enjoy a smoke without caring about the health of non-smokers.
Research conducted by the ministry revealed that approximately 880,000 Rwandans smoke. Among these, 58.9% start smoking between the age of 11 and 15 – the school going age. Once the bill is passed, the numbers of school-going children who smoke would go down since the habit is acquired largely through imitation.
While some may argue that the ban would affect revenues generated from tobacco, compared to the damage it causes, the losses are minimal