Article contributed by Umhlanga Attorney: Fawzia Khan
Smokers will need to brace themselves for much harsher laws aimed at closing the existing gaps around smoking in public spaces.
It’s well documented that many diseases such as lung and heart disease, various types of cancers, strokes and a host of other illnesses can be directly attributable to smoking. In order to curb the onslaught of damage we are subjecting our bodies to even through passive smoke inhalation, not to mention the damage direct smoking causes, the government proposed that it adopts a zero tolerance to smoking in public.
In terms of the proposed amendment to our existing smoking laws, smoking will be banned in all outdoor public spaces. The Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill was circulated for public comment during the course of 2018. Members of civil society had until 9 August 2018 to make comments and proposals to the Bill. The Bill does not only include cigarettes but also other tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, hookahs, and all other electronic devices.
It’s now likely that there could be a ban on smoking in your own vehicle as well, if you have a child (this means any person under the age of 18 years) or more than one person in the car with you, you will not be allowed to smoke in that car.
People living in sectional title schemes will not be allowed to smoke in an enclosed common area. Smoking will be prohibited in any place where there are children, such as a school. You will not be able to smoke in any partially or totally enclosed public area, such as verandas, patios, balconies and parking spaces. At present the hospitality industry is allowed to allocate 25% of its space for smokers. The amendment now seeks to have all restaurants completely smoke free.
Cigarette vending machines will not be allowed as it’s felt this could encourage a child to become addicted to smoking. The way cigarettes are packaged and branded will also to be legislated, aimed at discouraging the youth from taking up the habit. The draft Bill wants cigarette packaging to be uniform and must be as plain as possible. They also want the packaging to contain some graphic images of the damage smoking causes to the body. There will be no advertising of tobacco products.
The tobacco industry is huge. According to the chairperson of Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa, there are over 8 million adult smokers in SA. Off course the tobacco industry will not be pleased with the proposed tougher changes. In terms of our health we are all entitled to a smoke free environment, so says CANSA.
The Bill will only come into effect once it’s enacted. The ban on smoking extends to the workplace as well. The employer has to ensure that a designated smoke area must be at least 10 metres away from a public entrance. If you are caught smoking in non-smoking area you could face a hefty fine including imprisonment of up to five years. Employers would need to take heed of this and re-look their designated smoke areas to ensure compliance.
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