South Africans divided on new smoking laws
Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health held three public hearings in Gauteng about the draft bill on tobacco laws.
The bill seeks to strengthen public health protection measures and wants to drastically change the laws about smoking in South Africa.
The bill wants to align the SA tobacco control law with the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Among the proposed changes are the following:
- Indoor public places and certain outdoor areas to be 100% smoke-free.
- Discontinuation of the sale of cigarettes through vending machines.
- Packaging to be plain and include graphic health warnings.
Gauteng residents had contrasting views on the proposed legislation, according to BusinessTech. Some residents objected to classifying nicotine as a toxic substance. Many small-scale traders raised their concern about losing a significant source of their income because of the ban. Another main concern was the huge impact that this legislation would have on the country’s tax base given the size of the industry.
These concerns, mostly of economic relevance, were in line with concerns raised in public gatherings in Limpopo, the North West, and Mpumulanga.
Among the proposals that residents were in favour of, included the use of plain packaging, using images to highlight the dangers of smoking, and the ban on the sale of tobacco products through vending machines.
Further public engagements will be held, resuming in January next year in KwaZulu-Natal.
TOBACCO USE IN SA
The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) undertaken by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) last year showed that SA has a high number of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke. A significant amount of money is being spent on cigarettes despite the high levels of poverty. According to the results of the survey, 25.8% of South Africans smoked tobacco and 18% of SA adults were exposed to tobacco smoke inside their homes.