Joseph Eryau v. Environmental Action Network Ltd. (No. 2)

Civil Application No. 39 of 2001, Arising from Miscellaneous Application No. 39 of 2001
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Applicant Joseph Eryau made a motion to be heard in opposition to Application No. 39/2001. Of the five declarations proposed in the motion of Application No. 39/2001, all but two were struck down (including those orders which criminalized smoking in public places). The remaining two proposed that “smoking in a public place constitutes a violation of the rights of the non-smoking members of the public to a clean and healthy environment as prescribed under Article 39 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and Section 4 of the National Environment Statute, 1995” and that “smoking in a public place constitutes a violation of the rights of the non-smoking members of the Public to the right to life as prescribed under Article 22 of the Constitution of Uganda.”

The Court dismissed Mr. Eryau’s application and stated there was no reason for him to be heard in Application No. 39/2001. The Court appreciated Mr. Eryau’s concern that the declarations’ use of “public places” was too general, and stated that it would take this concern into consideration when it decided Application No. 39/2001.

While the Court thought his concern over the generality of “public places” was valid, it refused to approve Mr. Eryau’s application because it believed he had been hired to obstruct the proceedings. Mr. Eryau denied the adverse health affects of second-hand smoke, and the Court did not believe he was serious in this belief. Judge Ntabgoba stated, “I do not think that a person of his education…would not know that cigarette smoking is hazardous to the life of both the direct smoker like him but more so to the passive smoker.” The Court did not think further testimony from Mr. Eryau would be in any way beneficial.

“But I appreciate his very concern when he says, “You have to define which public places not to smoke in’.” (p. 3)

“The applicant says that he does not believe that smoking is dangerous to health and life and therefore a health hazard. He states that he should be left alone to smoke even if it may be injurious to his health. I wish to agree with him that he is free to smoke and destroy his health as he says. However, he cannot be heard t be saying that his smoking is not injurious to unsuspecting, unknowing and innocent non-smokers.” (p. 4)

“Cigarette smoking kills, and that is why smoking of cigarettes in the public places needs to be regulated. That is the crucial issue and not whether or not cigarette smoking is dangerous to life.” (p. 4)

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