News / South Africa

Makhosandile Zulu
3 minute read
31 May 2018
10:41 am

The department of health wants more stringent laws on smoking

Makhosandile Zulu

The department is proposing that packaging for tobacco products should be plain and make use of graphic images illustrating the health implications of consuming the product.

Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi during a press briefing at GCIS, 14 February 2017, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The national department of health is calling for more stringent regulations on smoking, and a tobacco-free generation.

The call comes as the world celebrates World No Tobacco Day this Thursday, May 31, a day meant to raise public awareness on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies and what people the world over can do to reduce the hazards of tobacco.

The department is further calling for public comment on the draft Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill of 2018.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said in an interview with the SABC this morning that the department wanted to implement firmer smoking laws.

“Because we want to get rid of tobacco in our lives because it is contributing nothing to the development of humanity […] all it brings is mayhem,” Motsoaledi said.

The minister said the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – an agreement that seeks to limit the use of tobacco globally and raise awareness on the dangers of its consumption by setting universal standards – has been signed by more countries compared to any other convention.

“Because the world is tired of tobacco, we don’t want it anymore,” Motsoaledi said.

The department is proposing a ban on smoking in public buildings and within 10 metres outside of any building.

“When we entered into the new democracy we sought of compromised, we said in a public space like a restaurant, even a hospital, 25 percent space must be set aside for smokers, we are doing away with that, there shouldn’t be any space whatsoever,” Motsoaledi said.

The minister added the ban on smoking within 10 metres outside of any building was necessary because though smoking has been prohibited inside buildings, smokers light up in close proximity to the entrance or exit of buildings, which affects members of the public, particularly non-smokers and those with health conditions such as asthma.

“So we want buildings to be safe. For instance, in the hospital, we are saying there should be no smoking in the yard,” Motsoaledi.

The department is further proposing that packaging for tobacco products should be plain, or standardised, and make use of graphic images illustrating the health implications of consuming the product.

The minister said South Africa was lagging behind countries that have already implemented this proposition, ranking 145th out of 205 countries, which are delayed.

Motsoaledi added the director-general of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, complained earlier this year that South Africa had fallen behind even though it had been in the forefront in the pursuit of implementing laws requiring plain (standardised) packaging of tobacco products.

The minister added that e-cigarettes would be classified as cigarettes under new legislation.

“We can’t ban them [e-cigarettes], but we are saying any law you apply to a cigarette you must apply to an e-cigarette because they also have nicotine,” Motsoaledi.

The minister said in 1993 when the Tobacco Products Control Act no 83 of 1993 was implemented, the smoking rate in the country at the time was at 33%.

Motsoaledi further said that according to the last study by the Human Research Science Council (HRSC) conducted in 2012 that percentage had dropped to 18%, adding the department wanted the rate to be reduced to insignificant levels.

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