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Tobacco Bill delay worries stakeholders

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Stakeholders in the tobacco industry have expressed worry over delays to have the Tobacco Bill.

Currently, the tobacco industry is regulated by a bill that was adopted in 1974 and does not reflect the current status of the industry.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development initially said that the long awaited tobacco bill which is crucial to eradicating some of the challenges faced would be tabled in Parliament in June 2016.

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However, the bill failed to be presented to Parliament as it is still in draft form.

Spokesperson in the Ministry Hamilton Chimala said that he cannot tell as to when the bill will be ready.

“We have submitted to the Ministry of Justice for their validation and the draft will be submitted to Cabinet after that. In terms of the duration it has been with us, we can confirm that the Ministry handles all national issues with necessary diligence in the best interest of the farming stakeholders,” he said.

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Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) has since expressed worry over the delay arguing that it is greatly affecting the sector.

Tama spokesperson, Sam Kalimba, said once implemented all stakeholders in the industry will benefit.

“Without the bill, there are no rules of the game, each player plays their own way so currently it is like we have no reference,” he said

Commenting on the same, Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) said the commission is hopeful that the bill will be tabled in Parliament during the sitting in February 2017.

TCC Chief Executive Director, Albert Changaya, said the integrated production system of tobacco is not available in the current bill which makes regulation difficult.

“When it comes to the sale of the tobacco under contact system we have challenges because there are no proper rules but the new tobacco bill will address these challenges,” he said.

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