House approves bill to reestablish ENA
The Ethiopian parliament has passed a draft bill dubbed ‘Food and Medicine Administration Proclamation’ restricting smoking in all indoor workplaces, public places and means of public transport and prohibited alcohol promotion on broadcasting medias.
It is to be recalled that the bill was first tabled before the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) in November, before it was referred to the Women, Youth and Social Affairs Standing Committee.
Then after, Abeba Yosef, Chairwoman of the Standing Committee brought the resolution back to the House on Tuesday explaining the major revisions and insertions made in the bill, pointing out the additions of stricter provisions especially on the age limit of tobacco and alcohol consumers.
For instance, the newly indorsed proclamation [in Art. 49/1] introduces a provision that prohibits the direct or indirect sell or offer of tobacco products to any persons under the age of 21 differing from the age limit stated under the original draft bill, which was set at age 18.
In addition, Article 43 of the original draft bill proposes the prohibition of smoking and tobacco use in public places, in any outdoor parts of healthcare facilities, government institutions, facilities including schools intended mainly for children or youth under the age of 18, higher education institutions, as well as any other places. Now, the revised bill endorses the age limit put on places intended for children or youth to be at age 21.
Similarly, the bill stipulates that it shall be illegal to sell any alcoholic drink to anyone under the age of 21 while the age limit originally proposed was age 18. Additionally, the prohibition of selling tobacco products within the premises and within ten meters of a premise is extended to 100 meters, where smoking and tobacco use is prohibited under this revised and endorsed proclamation.
Even though the original bill allows for any financial or in-kind charitable contributions provided that the contribution is not, in any way, publicized and it does not have the aim or effect of promoting tobacco products; the new bill prohibits the tobacco industry from making any financial contribution to charitable organizations.
Furthermore, according to the new bill, tobacco packaging must clearly contain visible health warnings to smokers.
Regarding alcohol advertisements, there was a restriction proposed in the original draft bill stating, “Any alcoholic drink whose volume is less than 10 percent may only be advertised through broadcast from 9:00 PM in the evening to 6:00 AM in the morning.
Nevertheless, after the standing committee’s revision, the bill bans total advertisement of alcohol drinks via broadcasting media and is stipulated as, “Any advertisements of alcohol drink is prohibited including volume of alcoholic content, its products brand, its trademark, logo, trademark identities and related services. Similarly, billboards shall also be affected the same. Where applicable, the advert shall contain a warning – in print or sound while the legal age for which a person can purchase alcohol shall be 21.
In addition to restricting alcohol and tobacco use, the bill also brings stricter provisions aimed at prohibiting the smoking of Shisha, which is identified as another social challenge affecting many.
Countries in the Eastern Africa region, have in recent years, upped the fight against smoking especially water-pipe tobacco popularly referred to as shisha.
Kenya, in 2017, joined Rwanda in issuing total shisha ban pursuant to the World Health Organization (WHO) advisory note. The first East African country to ban shisha was Tanzania in 2016.
According to WHO, the smoke inhaled in a typical one-hour shisha smoking session is equal to inhaling the smoke from as many as 100 sticks of cigarettes. Shisha contains cigarette tobacco, so like cigarettes it contains nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and heavy metals, such as arsenic and lead. As a result, shisha smokers are exposed to the same kinds of diseases as cigarette smokers, such as heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and problems during pregnancy.
The details of the endorsed proclamation also includes: several revised provisions on medicine and medical device advertisings and promotions, food and drink products as well as several health and medical related issues.
In another news, the House, in its third extraordinary session called on Wednesday has also approved a proclamation intended for the re-establishment of the State-Owned media institution, the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA).
The newly endorsed proclamation will enable ENA to have an institutional autonomy and disseminate information accordingly.
It is to be recalled that, after the approval by the Council of Ministers, the draft was referred to the Law, Justice and Democratic Affairs Standing Committee for further recommendations.
According to the information posted on its website, ENA currently has more than 35 branches across the country and is among the pioneering media houses with over 70 years of rich experience.
Ethiopian News Agency is one of the oldest news organizations in Africa, with its inception dating back to 1942.