2 min read
20 Nov

In a recent intelligence-led joint operation, the territorial police of Arua Central Business Division, in collaboration with officials from the Ministry of Health, the Department of Tobacco Control Division, and health inspectors of Arua City, arrested 38 individuals on the evening of Friday, November 17, 2023. The operation aimed to enforce tobacco control laws, focusing on Shisha smoking in public places within the communities of Arua City. Out of the 38 apprehended, 35 were men and 3 were women, including both Shisha smokers and proprietors of Shisha businesses.

The intelligence-led operation targeted areas where the prevalence of Shisha smoking was common, namely Swalia Cell, Baruku Cell, and Junior Quarters, all located in Arua City Central Division. The crackdown will extend to other areas within Greater Arua and the West Nile Region. The arrested individuals face charges related to the possession of banned tobacco products, such as Shisha, and smoking in public places, contravening the Tobacco Control Act 2015, specifically Part 3, sections 11, 12, and 16.

Items seized during the operation included 20 Shisha pots, 18 Shisha pipes, 11 tins of Shisha ingredients, and 5 sachets of Jirack molasses, all of which were presented as exhibits. The detained suspects are undergoing screening and investigations at Arua Central Business Division, and their case file will be forwarded to the Resident State Attorney for legal advice.

Tobacco Control Act 2015:

The Tobacco Control Act 2015 outlines laws, guidelines, and punishments for violations. The joint effort between the police and health officials included radio talk shows to raise awareness of tobacco control laws among the communities in the West Nile Region. The Act emphasizes the right to a smoke-free environment, requiring proprietors of public places, such as bars and clubs, to allocate spaces for clients who smoke in accordance with tobacco control guidelines.
Legal Consequences:

Individuals found guilty of contravening the law face a fine not less than 480,000 Ugandan shillings, imprisonment for not less than one year, or both. Corporations that violate the guidelines may incur a fine of not less than 20 million Ugandan shillings, withdrawal of operating licenses, and other specified punishments.

In light of these developments, SSP Angucia Josephine, PRO West Nile Region, urges the general public to abide by tobacco control laws. The goal is to protect citizens from the health effects of uncontrolled smoking in public spaces and to avoid inconveniences related to arrests and prosecutions. 

Proprietors and consumers of Shisha are specifically warned, as Shisha is completely banned by the law. Smokers are encouraged to relocate at least 50 meters away from any public place to mitigate the health effects of secondhand smoke on non-smokers.

The joint operation in Arua City reflects a commitment to enforcing tobacco control laws and creating a healthier, smoke-free environment for all residents. The crackdown on Shisha smoking serves as a reminder of the legal consequences for violating these regulations and underscores the importance of public awareness in ensuring compliance with tobacco control guidelines.

BY: Igwera Alinda, dailywestnile.info 
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