Considering Ethiopia’s Smoking Ban

The Ethiopian parliament last year voted in favor for a ban on smoking in public places, and early in 2015, Mekelle in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region became the first city to implement the ban. The end of September last year saw no-smoking signs begin to spring up on walls and windows of Addis Ababa hotels, bars and cafes. Even though the ban has not as at yet been fully implemented, the populace is getting ready as authorities have stated their intent to implement the ban from this month.

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The ban is not the first of its kind as a similar regulation was introduced in Kenya in 2008 with an infringement supposedly incurring a prison sentence anywhere from six months to three years for the person. In practice in Kenya however, the law doesn’t seem as drastic in practice as it is often ignored by the general public.


Ethiopia’s own penalty centers around a fine of $50 which may seem like a small thing but is actually a big deal when you consider that the average monthly wage in the country is $40. Seeing as both the Ethiopian and Kenya’s legislators pose the argument for the legislation as a fight against diseases, it is left to see if Ethiopia will adopt the same easy approach as Kenya and let the law breathe. We however choose for the sake of this article to work with a view to a decided crackdown as promised by the law, which entails;

  • Prohibiting smoking in restaurants, schools, public transport, bureaus and other public places with the attached fine of nothing less than $95 for any institution that fails to apply the law
  • Anyone caught sending a person under 18 years of age to purchase cigarette as well as an institution caught selling less than a packet of cigarette will face a $119 fine.
  • Institutions which promote, advertise and sponsor tobacco products will face a fine of not less than $225.

This will mean that most smoking will have to be done in practical secrecy or in selected ventilated rooms. The government’s stand is immediately understandable, besides the fact that the tax on cigarettes does nothing to meet up with the cost of treating smokers, people will also be forced to save money that would otherwise have been diverted towards cigarette smoking. Non smokers will also no doubt be overjoyed about the development and the government again will be able to save it’s face globally having signed the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2004.


The smokers might find it difficult however to transit to the new expectations and institutions who have always attracted customers and made a good chunk of their income off revenue from cigarette sales will also not look too kindly on the implementation of this law.

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