Last week, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi indicated that the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act will be submitted to cabinet for approval early next year.
The proposals, first mooted in 2015, have garnered significant public interest as they propose a number of strict new smoking laws.
The legislation plans to introduce a number of changes to South African smoking laws, including:
- A zero-tolerance policy on in-door smoking in public places (including the removal of designated smoking areas in restaurants);
- A ban on outdoor smoking in public places;
- When smoking outside, smokers must be at least 10 metres away from public entrances;
- The removal of all signage on cigarette packaging aside from the brand name and warning stickers;
- Cigarettes may no longer be publicly displayed by retailers.
While the new proposals have been praised by some, they are also likely to be met with steep resistance – especially in the business sector.
When the proposals were first mooted in 2015 British American Tobacco South Africa (BAT SA) threatened to close down its plant in the country should the new laws be given the go ahead.
“When it comes to plain packaging, we have always believed that this policy is disproportionate, will not deliver its intended results and significantly erodes our intellectual property rights by stripping us of our right to use our trade marks,” the company said.
This could have a significant knock-on effect on South Africa’s economy, reported IOL in March this year, as the company currently employs more than 2100 people, bought goods and services worth R6 billion from local suppliers and generated R14.5 billion in tax revenues during the period.
The new proposals will be open to public commentary following their submission to cabinet next year.