However, the country’s Ministry of Health, with the support of a number of civil society lobby groups such as International Institute for Legislative Affairs, had resisted the sales of the products, and announced a ban in October 2020.
Less than two years later, following incessant lobbying by BAT and a number of tobacco harm reduction experts, nicotine pouches are back on the Kenyan market. Moreover, the tobacco company is still striving to launch its nicotine manufacturing plant in Nairobi.
An article on Africa Report has highlighted that BAT Kenya Plc has already imported ten tonnes of its nicotine pouches from South Africa in July 2022. Moreover, the tobacco company has already ordered additional supplies, which are expected to be in Kenya by the end of August.
Africa has over 77 million cigarette smokers, with over 250,000 dying each year from smoking-related conditions. In Kenya alone, it is estimated that about 30,000 people die yearly because of smoking. To this effect, tobacco harm reduction experts will certainly be in favour of this ban reversal.
A step towards reducing tobacco harm
Last year, the Africa Tobacco Harm Reduction Forum hosted by the Campaign for Safer Alternatives (CASA) addressed the ban saying that it was putting a stumbling block in the smoking cessation journey of thousands.
“By lagging behind the rest of the world in its stance on tobacco harm reduction (THR), the Kenyan government is blocking the escape from tobacco-related disease and death for 30,000 smokers a year, with no chance of reprieve,” said CASA Chairman Joseph Magero during the webinar.
“Kenya’s ongoing ‘quit or die’ tobacco control policy ignores the reality that too many smokers find it impossible to quit, even when they want to. Reduced harm products such as e-cigarettes and oral nicotine pouches give them a much safer alternative, a route away from cigarettes and a better chance of a smoke-free future.”