The Department of Health has officially released its Draft Tobacco Bill for public comment.
Among other proposals, the Draft Bill plans to ban smoking in certain public spaces and significantly clamp down on what advertising may be used to promote tobacco products.
These changes include:
- 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 certain public places;
- 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 a number of these proposed changes have been well documented in the media, the official publication of the regulations has also revealed a number of other proposals which could prove to be more controversial among the South African public.
According to a American Cancer Society (ACS) report released in March, more than 55,000 children (10-14 years old) and 6,321,000 adults (15+ years old) continue to use tobacco each day in South Africa.
This means that a large portion of the population is likely to be affected by the regulations – while arguably an even larger number of people are likely to benefit from the reduction of harmful second-hand smoke.
These other changes include:
- A ban on smoking in any motor vehicle when a child under the age of 18 years is present and there is more than one person present in that vehicle.
- An extension of these laws to not only cigarettes, but also any devices used in connection with tobacco products and electronic delivery systems such as pipes, water pipes and electronic devices.
- A ban on smoking in any enclosed common areas of a multi-unit residence.
- The Minister may prohibit smoking in any outdoor public place or workplace if they believe it would be in the public interest.
- Stricter rules on the depiction of any tobacco products – including a ban on the sale of any confectionery or toy that resembles or is intended to represent a tobacco product.
- Harsh jail time or a fine depending on the severity of the offence. For example those caught smoking in banned areas will receive a fine or or prison time up to 3 months, while those found guilty of manufacturing or importing tobacco products which do not meet the new requirements and existing standards could face a fine and imprisonment of up to 10 years.