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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 May 2006, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Kenya suspends public smoking ban
Man smoking
There was confusion about where people could smoke
Kenya's High Court has suspended a controversial ban on smoking in public places which began on Monday.

It ordered the suspension for 30 days after tobacco companies challenged the health minister's authority to impose the restriction.

British American Tobacco and Mastermind said the ban, announced just over a week before it came into effect, did not give them enough time to comply.

The manufacturers were due to start printing health warnings on packets.

Health Minister Charity Ngilu argued that the ban was in line with the advice of the World Health Organisation.

Justice Joseph Nyamu issued the injunction until at least 30 June saying the tobacco firms had a "prima facie case", AFP news agency reports.

The ban would have required millions of cigarette packs without the new warning to be recalled from stores.


There has also been confusion about where people can smoke as the law is vague in defining a "public place".

Since Monday, the BBC's Noel Mwakugu in Nairobi says some of Kenya's 5m smokers have been in a state of panic, looking for somewhere safe to light up.

Under the ban, those caught smoking in offices, bus stations, airports and sports venue would face a fine of 50,000 Kenya shillings ($700; 375) or six months in prison.

Bars and restaurants without separate smoking areas were also to be affected.

Last year, Director of Medical Services (DMS) James Nyikal said tobacco killed some 12,000 Kenyans each year and a public ban would reduce that figure.

Kenya's 300,000 tobacco farmers, who grow about 20,000 tons a year, fear that when the ban comes into affect it could seriously hit their incomes.

Last year the government introduced a 140% tax on cigarettes.

Neighbouring Uganda banned smoking in public places in 2004 but the ban is not strictly enforced, reports the AFP news agency.

Tanzania has also outlawed smoking in public places.

Smoking curbs: The global picture
31 May 05 |  In Depth
Tanzania bans public smoking
02 Jul 03 |  Africa

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