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Forum submits its objections to smoking laws

GAUTENG - The Gauteng Liquor Forum is up in arms against the proposed new smoking laws.

The Gauteng Liquor Forum has made its submission to the Department of Health regarding the proposed new smoking regulations.

The forum described the regulations as “detrimental to business especially in the townships where houses are crammed together”.

The submission was made on proposed regulations relating to Smoking in Public Places and Certain Outdoor Public Places. The forum, which represents more than 5 000 legal liquor traders in the townships of Gauteng, said its members would be adversely affected by the proposed regulations once they were signed into law.

“Our taverns are built in accordance with the specifications from the Liquor Board which among other things include having a separate smoking area from the non-smokers,” said president of the forum Linda Madida in the submission. “At no time had we ever intended to or deviated from these specifications as we also believe that they are for the good of our clientele.

“As a forum, we don’t allow under age drinking or buying of alcohol and therefore access at all times is reserved to adult people above the age of 21 years. The association’s concern is based on the fact that the regulations are really not justifiable.”

Madida said excessive and inappropriate regulation may create a variety of problems. “Firstly, if our customers have to keep up with the prohibition of indoor smoking, they will have to go and smoke outside the tavern premises. This may expose our customers to criminal elements as our streets are not safe. The regulations will technically turn our clients into criminals by drinking in public as no patron will be willing to leave an opened bottle of beer or a glass of beverage to other people,” Madida said.

Smoking 10m away from an open door or window was unrealistic as such a distance fell outside the premises and having patrons moving around outside the premises may invite criminals, argued Madida. It would also disturb the peace with neighbours and infringe on the licence conditions.

Madida described the regulations as unrealistic and could backfire as customers may revolt and disobey them. This may also promote bribery and corruption as traders will be open to abuse by law enforcement agents. “We therefore urge the department to reconsider the proposals,” Madida demanded.

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