By Tesfa-Alem Tekle (ADDIS ABABA) – World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday called on the public in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa to strictly comply with the smoke-law in public places.
WHO’s appeal comes weeks after authorities in Addis Ababa announced that they would start to enforce a ban on tobacco smoking in public areas.
WHO officials here in Addis Ababa told AAO that although Ethiopia is one of the countries with lowest tobacco consumer rates smoking however is on the rise.
According to the World Lung Foundation, Ethiopians smoked an average of around 75 cigarettes per year in 2014.
The Health officials said people are being subjected to different tobacco related health hazards and many are dying as a result.
Ethiopian lawmakers in 2014 unanimously passed a law banning smoking in major public places including in bars, cafes, restaurants, schools, stadiums as well as at major public events such as cultural and religious festivals.
According to the law tobacco advertising is also made illegal
Offenders will face a fine of 2,000 Ethiopian Birr ($93) and 2,500 Birr ($116) for those who send persons under 18 years of age to buy cigarettes.
Under the law, those found selling less than a full pack of cigarettes will be liable also to a fine of around $116.
Government officials stress that penalizing smokers is never meant to persecute them but to lure them to be health conscious.
The smoking ban for the capital is expected to be fully enforced as of June 8.
Addis Ababa is the second Ethiopian city to enforce the law after the northern city of Mekelle which put the law into effect in January 2015.
Zeyneba Shikur, deputy director general in the Addis Ababa Food, Medicine, Health Care and Control Authority said the implementation of the smoke-ban was delayed to buy time for awareness raising activities.
People say the Implementation of the law will be more challenging in Addis Ababa, one of the world’s most populace city with at least 4 million residents.
WHO says the smoke-ban is meant to safeguard the health of the general public.