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The National Assembly of the Gambia on the afternoon of Tuesday December 20, 2016 enacted the Tobacco Control Bill, 2016 into lawThis comes with a sigh relief to the tobacco control community which has worked tirelessly for the last three years to bring this process to maturity. Indeed this is a remarkable achievement to be celebrated in the advancement of the tobacco control agenda on the African continent. 

The law now awaits the assent of the President as a final step in the enactment process. It should be noted that the President has been supportive of the cause of tobacco control in the Gambia and according to the Ministry of Health Tobacco control Focal Person, Mr. Omar Badjie, the President is expected to assent to the Act within 14 days after its being passed by the National Assembly.

Some key highlights of the law include among others;

a) A requirement for the manufacturers, distributors, or retailers of tobacco products to ensure that the 75% of the Principal Display Areas carry Pictorial Health Warnings on the dangers of tobacco
b) In order to protect the non-smoking public from second hand smoke and guarantee the right to a healthy smoke-free environment, it is prohibited for anyone to smoke or consume a tobacco within 100 meters of a public place.
c) Strong deterrent measures have also been put in place for purposes of enforcement.  For instance the fine for not displaying a ‘no smoking signage’ is not less than 65$, depending on the nature of the premises where the infringement has been committed

According to Mr. Badjiethe National Assembly recommended that the Minister of Health determines the time for the commencement of the Actwhich should be after a not last less than three months’ massive sensitization of the public on the import of the Tobacco Control Law.

The enactment of this law brought together a number of tobacco control partners working in the Gambia. This drive was spearheaded by CTCA with the technical support of WHO and collaboration from other tobacco control partners such as Raid the Gambia who pulled their weight to support the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in the bill enactment process.

CTCA applauds the Government of the Gambia and in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in particular upon this milestone achievement in tobacco control. Indeed for the tobacco control community Christmas has come early and congratulations are in order.

Bravo, the Gambia.