The long-promised Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill was finally published last week for public comment.
The Bill outlaws smoking in all public and workplace “enclosed spaces” including corridors and stairways, smoking in private cars transporting children and homes where childcare and tutoring take place.
The Bill describes nicotine as “highly addictive and toxic” and gives the Minister of Health the power to ban outdoor smoking when it poses a health or fire risk.
In addition, the Bill proposes that cigarettes are sold in plain packaging and that the health warnings on packs contain pictures of what smoking can do to the human body, known as “graphic warning”.
The Bill also aims to control “electronic delivery systems” – including vapour-releasing electronic cigarettes, hubbly bubbly pipes and heat-not-burn devices that heat tobacco.
Savera Kalideen, executive director of the National Council Against Smoking, welcomed the Bill, saying it that was “a very strong public statement”.
“There has been a slight increase in smoking and the Bill will help to stem this increase, particularly among young people and young women,” said Kalideen.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about e-cigarettes, which were not regulated by smoking laws because they don’t contain tobacco.”
Surveys estimate that between 18 and 22 percent of South Africans smoke – a significant decrease from 1992 when around 32 percent of people smoked.
The Bill will bring South Africa in line with the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The public has until 9 August to comment on the Bill and comments can be emailed to Health Department Chief Director for Non-Communicable Diseases Lynne Moeng-Mahlangu at firstname.lastname@example.org