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Rwanda: Bills on Banning Smoking and Legalizing Medical Marijuana

(June 15, 2010) On June 7, 2010, Dr. Richard Sezibera the Minister of Health, introduced a bill on banning smoking in public places to the Rwandan Parliament for floor action. (Edwin Musoni, Anti-Smoking Bill Goes to Parliament, THE NEW TIMES, June 8, 2010, available at

The bill would forbid smoking in public places and on public transportation systems. In addition, it would prohibit smoking in places where the presence of children is common, including children's homes; areas of residential houses; and other premises with commercial childcare, school, or tutoring establishments. However, the bill would allow managers or owners of places where smoking is not allowed to designate smoking areas in a manner that does not inconvenience non-smokers. (Id.)

Of the 80 members of the Rwandan Chamber of Deputies (the lower house), about 20 support a total ban on smoking. During the presentation of the bill to the Chamber of Deputies, Constance Mukayuhi, a Member of Parliament, challenged Sezibera as to why he has not proposed a total ban, given the fact that “[t]he revenues generated from tobacco are very minimal compared to the damage it causes.” (Id.)

Rwanda signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on June 2, 2004, and ratified it on October 19, 2005. (World Health Organization FCTC portal, (last visited June 14, 2010).)

Sezibera also introduced a bill on the legalization of marijuana and other narcotics for medical use. (Edwin Musoni, Govt Seeks to Legalize Marijuana for Medical Use, THE NEW TIMES, June 9, 2010, available at The bill provides that the drugs will only be administered in health institutions to relieve pain or to treat mental problems. (Id.) The bill has thus far garnered unanimous support from the Members of Parliament. (Id.)