South Africa set for stricter rules around cigarettes and smoking

 ·1 Sep 2020

The City of Cape Town says that it is aiming to make its public buildings completely smoke-free as part of an international partnership with Bloomberg, and in preparation for incoming national smoking legislation.

Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for Community Services and Health, Zahid Badroodien, said that the city has joined Bloomberg Partnership for Healthy Cities Tobacco Campaign.

As part of the partnership, the city has elected to focus on tobacco use and second-hand smoke as the new National Tobacco Bill will be promulgated soon, he said.

Badroodien said that the bill will introduce a number of changes at a national level, including:

  • Promoting a 100% smoke-free environment for all, including important amendments around stricter rules on where one is allowed to smoke;
  • The inclusion of e-cigarettes under tobacco products;
  • The enforcement of plain packaging and the banning of tobacco products advertising at tills;
  • The eliminating of cigarette vending machines.

“According to the South Africa Demographic and Health Survey, 25% of women and 43% of men in the Western Cape smoke daily. The goal is to create a smoke-free city through stakeholder engagement, education campaigns and review of internal City policy.

“The City of Cape Town will aim for as many of its buildings as possible to be compliant with the new workplace smoking policy post-intervention,” said Badroodien.

Badroodien detailed the city’s three-pronged approach to address tobacco use as follows:

  • Policy Changes – City Health and Human Resources, together with the policy unit, have updated the City’s smoking in the workplace policy. This new document is a framework which aims to discourage smoking, as well as protect non-smokers;
  • Increased enforcement of Tobacco Legislation – Environmental Health, and other City departments, have ramped up enforcement of tobacco legislation within the City. Gaps in law enforcement were identified and roles and responsibilities are being defined. During the festive season, activations were held at roadblocks and beaches to educate the citizens on the harms of tobacco use;
  • Media Campaign: City Health is creating a tobacco awareness campaign, which is both internally and externally focused. The aims of the campaign are to advertise that the City is going smoke-free and to educate the community about the harms of second-hand smoke.

Ban on smoking in public places

Deputy health minister Joe Phaahla said in May that the government was in process of finalising the bill which will allow it to impose a 100% ban on smoking in public areas.

He said that the government is also moving to identify areas that need strengthening in terms of legislation, including the regulation of e-cigarettes and related products.

“We’re finalising the Tobacco Control Bill to close the gap to protect the public from harmful effects of tobacco use. We continue to identify areas that need strengthening in terms of legislation,” he said.

The current smoking law bans smoking in public places, but allows for designated smoking areas in places like bars, taverns and restaurants, provided that they do not take up more than 25% of the venue.

“We want to change the 25% allowed smoking in public areas to 100% prohibition of smoking in public areas.”

The deputy minister noted that smoking among adults has reduced from 32% in 1992 to 18% in 2012, in South Africa. He said that more recent studies have shown that this number has since increased to more than 21%.

He said that tobacco kills around 20,000 people in South Africa annually.

Read: New push for stricter alcohol laws in South Africa – here’s what could change

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