How Tobacco, Drug Abuse and Trafficking Counter-Interventions Compare in Uganda
Today marks the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking which happens every 26th of June. This event recognises the severe impact that illicit drugs have on health, development, peace and security. Listening more to children and young people creates safer and healthier lives opposed to Drug Abuse and Trafficking
The year’s (2017) theme of the day is ‘Listen first- Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe.’ Many parents are absent in the lives of their children which aspect has provided fertile ground for peer pressures to take centre stage. This has conscripted many and a failed future, school dropouts, early pregnancies and ultimately the non- communicable diseases had turned into an epidemic.
Uganda’s strides in 2015 saw the enactment of the Narcotic drugs and psychotic substances (control) Act and the Tobacco Control Act. There is a connection in the two laws given that young people lacking information are trapped into tobacco smoking and are reported to take to drug abuse as a consequence.
In the Narcotic drugs and psychotic substances (control) Act 2015: Possession and trafficking of Narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances is prohibited, cultivation of cannabis (Njaga) khat/ Mira (Mairungi), is banned; prescription of psychotropic substances is regulated; enforcement includes confiscations, arrests, forfeiture of items used in trafficking; the act also establishes a National Coordination Committee, rehabilitation centres and a special fund allocated by parliament. The tobacco Control Act 2015 on the other hand bans importation of Shisha, smoking in public places, work places and public means of transport; creates a National Tobacco Control Committee; bans tobacco advertising sponsorship and promotion, bans display of tobacco products among others.
The Gulu District Alcoholic Drinks Control Ordinance regulates the production, sale and consumption of alcohol especially those packed in sachets below 250 mls. According to a research report by Tessa Laing and Dr Nicolas Laing that preceded the passing of the ordinance; “fathers spend their money on sachet waragi, rather than providing school fees for their children. Drunkenness triggers arguments and violence within homes, breaking families apart. Over-consumption of alcohol is leading to disease and early death, leaving behind uncared for children. Too many youth are spending their most creative years in the centres drinking when they could be seeking employment. Gulu society as a whole suffers as collective productivity is decreased. Healthcare systems are burdened with testing preventable alcohol- related diseases. Streets are less safe.”
Alcohol abuse has thrived in a legal framework older than Uganda’s independence. The Liquor Act cap 93 Commencement date is 1st October, 1960. It is described as an act to make provision for regulating the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquor, and to provide for matters incidental thereto and connected therewith. The Enguli (Manufacture and Licensing) Act 1966 commenced on 20 January, 1965 and 14 January, 1966 is described as an Act to regulate the manufacture, licensing and sale of Enguli and for other purposes connected therewith.
What we can do together?
- Make readily available information against drug abuse and trafficking;
- Report to the authorities adults exposing children and Young people to illicit drugs;
- Encourage children and young people to take part in community development activities;
- Musicians should stop drug abuse promotional music but rather become change agents;
- Recommend addicts for rehabilitation services;
- Parents, faith based and cultural institutions must be involved in children and young people talks ;
- Government should repeal the Liquor Act and Enguli ( manufacture and Licensing) Act by fast tracking the Alcohol Control Bill;
- Law enforcers vigilance should be beefed up and must never open up to corruption;
- Parliament should allocate and increase funding to rehabilitation centres,
- Minister of Internal affairs should fast-track establishment of the National coordination committee and the regulations to the Narcotic drugs and psychotic substances (control) Act 2015
For God and My Country