Tobacco laws fail to protect against smoke in Nairobi -survey

By Gatonye Gathura

Almost a decade later, the Tobacco Control Act has failed to protect patrons and workers against smoke in Nairobi bars and restaurants.

A recent survey of 176 liquor licensed bars and restaurants in the Westlands sub-country of Nairobi showed the policy has all but failed. This covered areas in Highridge, Kangemi and Kilimani.

Unrestricted smoking was found to take place in almost all bars and restaurants, at least in 150 or 85 per cent of the sampled premises.

Dr Kellen J Karimi and a team from the School of Public Health, University of Nairobi, found most of the premises and especially bars had no dedicated smoking zones with others not displaying ‘No Smoking’ signs.

“But smoking occurred whether or not there were ‘No Smoking signs’,” says Dr Karimi in the study published on Wednesday in BMJ Open.

This is mainly because managers forfeited their discretion to enforce workplace bans preferring this to be implemented by government agencies.

A manager, with the expansive Rwathia groups of restaurants in Nairobi’s Central Business District said the No Smoking signs ceased to be of any significance along time ago. “I doubt whether even workers notice they are there.”

The researchers however found that the level of education of bar and restaurant managers was a key determinant of the presence of a workplace policy in their premises.

Two-thirds of the managers were male, while 36 per cent were female. About 44 per cent of the respondents had attained at least secondary education; and about half had post-secondary education.

Establishments at which managers had lower levels of education were less likely to have a workplace policy and less likely to have ‘No Smoking’ signs and designated smoking zones.

“We recommend that managers of bars and restaurants should have a
minimum qualification of post-secondary education.”

Rocket Science

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