While the anti-smoking bill was, last year, debated in Parliament, no final decision has been taken by the House. The legislation, that seeks to restrict smoking in public places, should be considered among the priorities for the House.
Smoking ban in public places has been driven by the long established dangers of second hand smoke on innocent by-standers. That passive smoking causes heath related complications including, heart disease, stroke and even cancer, is no longer debatable.
Additionally, there should be concern about the costs of smoking. Public health care costs are already high, and expenditures resulting from increasing numbers of people using harmful tobacco products including cigarettes, can be brought down if the habit is checked.
Research conducted by the Ministry of Health has shown that approximately 880,000 Rwandans smoke. Among these, 58.9% start smoking between the ages of 11 and 15 – the school going age. Once the bill is passed, the numbers of children who smoke will drop since smoking is a learned habit, largely out of imitation and peer pressure.
While some may argue that the ban would affect revenues generated from tobacco, compared to the damage it causes, the revenues are minimal.