Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s plan to ban smoking in public is a violation of civil liberties, the Free Market Foundation (FMF) says.
It also described it as a totalitarian bid by the government to control health and society, which ignored the mental health benefits of smoking.
Yesterday, Motsoaledi said the plan to ban public smoking was well under way and that tougher legislation was needed.
But FMF executive director Leon Louw said it would violate the law, as there had been no public participation on the decision and it was contrary to section 195 of the constitution.
“This law would prohibit people from enjoying themselves. While the original law was intended to protect nonsmokers, this particular law is a violation of people’s right to control their own bodies,” he said.
He added that Motsoaledi “was not considering the health benefits of smoking as it contributes to decreasing depression and stress”.
There had also been no socioeconomic impact assessment, he charged. “Only big companies will comply. It is anti-small businesses.”
In support of the plan, CEO of the Tobacco, Alcohol and Gambling Advisory, Advocacy and Action Group Peter Ucko said it would benefit the public.
“There is no question that tobacco is harmful and poses many health risks,” he said, citing the benefit of the ban in workplaces.
“The freedom to smoke has posed health risks to people of all ages. There is a desperate need to control public smoking.”