By Premy Kibanga
BBC, Dar es Salaam
Smoking in public places has been banned in Tanzania under a new law that came into effect on 1 July.
Smokers in Tanzania cannot light up in public places
Under the Tobacco Products
(regulation) Act 2003 it is illegal to smoke inside public transport, hospitals, schools and many other public places.
Tobacco is a major foreign exchange earner and tobacco-growers have condemned the law.
It is also an offence to sell tobacco products to persons under the age of 18.
The government has called for the setting up of special smoking areas at places of work.
Tobacco advertising on radio, TV and in newspapers has also been prohibited.
The government will issue guidelines on sites where tobacco advertising can be placed.
A statement by the country's health ministry said the aim
of the Act is to reduce the use of tobacco products in
the country in order to reduce the occurrence of diseases that are brought about by smoking.
The new law will also protect non-smokers and educate smokers on the importance of quitting smoking.
Advertising of tobacco products on radio, television and in newspapers is prohibited
This, the government says, will help to "create an environment that
will help to make the society a non-smoking one".
From 1 July, cigarettes manufactured in and outside the
country will have to adhere to international standards and will have to carry a warning in both English and Kiswahili on the negative effects of cigarette smoking.
The bill was passed by parliament in February.
President Benjamin Mkapa signed it into law in April.
MPs from the tobacco growing regions cautioned the government against passing the law, expressing fears that the ruling party might lose votes from tobacco farmers in the 2005 general election.
However, the Minister for Industry and Trade, Dr Juma Ngasongwa, says the effects will only be temporary and that
the country has to look at the issue from all angles.
"After all the ban is a universal issue and people will get used
"We are not worried at all," Dr Ngasongwa said.