British American tobacco accused of intimidating African governments

Activists protesting over alleged bribery by BAT.The Kenya Tobacco Alliance has called on the Ministry of Education to order the withdrawal of a student's competition organized by the company photo COURTESY

Tobacco manufacturer British American Tobacco has been accused of trying to intimidate African governments to loosen the regulations.

In a report prepared by British newspaper The Guardian, the cigarette manufacturer has been accused of trying to use intimidatory tactics at the courts to get the laws requiring cigarette manufacturers to educate smokers on the health implications of smoking relaxed.

“The Regulations are unlawful in their entirety as a result of procedural impropriety … The warning requirements [on cigarette packets] constitute an unjustifiable barrier to international trade” Reads a court document obtained by the guardian.

Kenya is not the only country  embroiled in a legal tussle with BAT,other African countries include Uganda,Burkina Faso ,Togo,Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This is the 2nd time in less than two years that the company has been put on the spotlight over unethical business practices Kenya.

In 2015, a former employee  of the company alleged that the company had paid hefty bribes to  senior KRA officials so that they could impose heavy taxes from Kenyan grown Mastermind Tobacco.

An investigative report by Qatari broadcaster Aljazeera in 2015 also  alleged that the company tried to manipulate Kenyan members of parliament in the health committee by offering them all expenses paid trips to their plant in Britain.