The National Council Against Smoking has fired its first salvo in the war against tobacco advertising by laying a formal complaint with the police after several shops at Johannesburg International Airport were found to be displaying logos and advertisements.

North Rand police has confirmed that they are investigating alleged contraventions of the Tobacco Products Control Act and the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act and the Regulations related to the Act against at least four businesses at the Johannesburg International Airport.

“On 4 May the complainant in the case, Peter Ucko from the National Council Against Smoking and the police investigator visited the four shops in question. Mr Ucko pointed out to the SAPS investigator several tobacco related advertisements and logos displayed by the shops and on some vending machines,” said police spokesperson Superintendent Eugene Opperman.

Ucko has laid a formal complaint for the police to investigate.

Opperman said police would hand over the relevant case files to the senior public prosecutor for a decision about prosecution, once the investigations have been completed.

Ucko said charges were laid against the Tax & Duty Free Shop and two of its satellite stores, the News Cafe, Cosmic Candy and Compass Bar in the international departures area and BJs Restaurant in the domestic arrivals terminal.

“There will be no exceptions in this process. We will continue to lay charges for infringements and seek to secure convictions. The constitutional imperative (Section 24) to an environment which is not harmful to our health must be made a reality. Second hand smoke and passive smoke kill,” Ucko said.

The investigation includes the possible liability of British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International and the Airports Company of SA. The court would also determine the deputed liability of the executives of those companies and establishments.

Ucko said establishments that permitted smoking in areas where smoking was prohibited would be targeted vigorously from now on.

“Those which erroneously think that they are exempt from the law because they believe that they are so-called “private clubs” will also find charges being laid against them. Golf Clubs and Bowling Clubs for example are definitely public places and work places and must comply with the law,” Ucko said.

He added that very soon, charges would be laid for alleged infringements against the Point of Sale regulations and for other illegal advertising.

“Advertising is totally prohibited by the Act. The penalty is R 200 000 for each offence.”

Ucko said World No Tobacco Day 2001 (May 31) was an appropriate day to repeat the intent behind the Tobacco Control legislation – to protect the health of all South Africans – 25 000 of whom die every year due to tobacco-related diseases.

The World Health Organisation estimates that nearly 700 million, or almost half of the world’€™s children breath air polluted by tobacco smoke, particularly at home.

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