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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


Ban on indoor public smoking among changes as tobacco plan nears law

The bill proposes, among others, a 100% smoke-free indoor environment.


South African smokers are likely to face more restrictions over proposed tobacco legislation that introduces stringent new anti-smoking rules, and regulates e-cigarettes for the first time.

The Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill was formally tabled in parliament by health minister Joe Phaahla last week.

It seeks to repeal the current Tobacco Products Control Act.

Proposed amendments

The proposed amendments come amid an ongoing battle between government and giants in the cigarette industry.

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The bill proposes, among others, 100% smoke-free indoor and a limited number of outdoor areas, a ban on the sale of cigarettes in vending machines, and a bigger emphasis on warning signage on cigarette packaging.

It also for the first time regulates e-cigarettes and other new generation products.

In addition, the Bill seeks to strengthen the country’s public health measures and align them with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Cabinet

According to Cabinet statement, the Bill has gone through extensive consultation with various stakeholders, including the cigarette industry, civil-society organisations and relevant government departments.

Webinar

On Monday, the health department said it is embarking on a series of webinar sessions as parts of efforts to unpack the recently approved Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill, published in 2018 by Cabinet.

The department has invited stakeholders and sectors carrying out control work to attend these webinars, which include the risks associated with tobacco use, understanding the risks and use of e-cigarettes and related products, and tobacco Control policies, amongst others.

WHO on tobacco

According to the WHO, the epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than 8 million people a year, including around 1.2 million deaths from exposure to second-hand smoke.

“Over 80% of the 1.3 billion tobacco users worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest. Tobacco use contributes to poverty by diverting household spending from basic needs such as food and shelter.”

“The economic costs of cigarette use are substantial, and include significant health care costs for treating the diseases caused by tobacco use as well as the lost human capital that results from tobacco-attributable morbidity and mortality,” the WHO said.

ALSO READ: Batsa: Illicit tobacco sales deprive the fiscus of more than R19bn a year

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