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Ethiopia’s Historic Public Health Law Will Save Lives and Stem a Growing Tobacco Epidemic in Africa

Statement of Bintou Camara, Director of Africa Programs, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
February 05, 2019

UPDATE: On February 21, 2019, President Sahle-Work Zewde signed the legislation into law.


Ethiopia’s parliament has today approved historic public health legislation that will become one of Africa’s strongest laws on reducing tobacco use. Passed unanimously by parliament, the Food and Medicine Administration Proclamation will save lives and protect over 105 million people in Africa’s second most populous nation.

The new law requires 100 percent smoke-free public and work places, bans tobacco advertising and promotions, restricts the sale of flavored tobacco products and mandates pictorial warning labels covering 70 percent of the front and back of all tobacco products. The law also bans the sale of heated tobacco products, e-cigarettes and shisha, and prohibits tobacco sales to anyone under the age of 21.

The impact of Ethiopia’s new law cannot be overstated. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids congratulates the Ethiopian government for this important public health victory. As tobacco companies continue to set their sights on Africa, Ethiopia has set an example for what all African nations can and should do to curb tobacco use, the world’s leading cause of preventable death.

In Africa and around the world, tobacco companies fight hardest against the measures they know work to reduce tobacco use. The Ethiopian government must now move to implement the law as swiftly as possible and remain vigilant against attempts by tobacco companies to undermine this tremendous progress.

Around the world, tobacco use kills more than seven million people each year – and without urgent action by more African countries, nearly one third of the world’s smokers will live in Africa by 2100.