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New smoking laws for South Africa are coming – including a 100% public ban and changes to packaging

New smoking laws for South Africa are coming – including a 100% public ban and changes to packaging

The Portfolio Committee on Health will hold public hearings on the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill this weekend, encouraging South Africans to make their opinions heard regarding the controversial bill.

The North West Province will be the first province to host the nationwide hearings on the controversial bill.

The bill seeks to provide legislative and policy changes that will change the following:

  • Indoor public places and certain outdoor areas will be determined to be 100% smoke-free;
  • The sale of cigarettes through vending machines will be banned;
  • Cigarette boxes will have to have plain packaging with graphic health warnings and pictorials;
  • A total ban on display at point-of-sale; and
  • The regulation and control of electronic nicotine delivery systems and no nicotine delivery systems.

Recognising court rulings that emphasised problems with public involvement in creating laws, the committee said that parliament and the legislative sector as a whole are dedicated to improving this constitutional requirement, which is also a constitutional responsibility of Parliament.

“The hearings are in line with Chapter 59 (1) of South Africa’s Constitution, which compels the National Assembly to facilitate public involvement in the legislative process. Furthermore, the legislative sector adopted a public participation model that places public consultation at the centre of its business,” said Dr Kenneth Jacobs, the Chairperson of the committee.

The committee will also hold public hearings during the week and weekends to ensure that stakeholders, organisations and individuals are given enough opportunity to participate.

“In trying to ensure the existence of a favourable atmosphere for a meaningful public participation process, we decided to hold hearings at times and days which will afford interested individuals and stakeholders a reasonable opportunity to participate. We are ready to listen,” Dr Jacobs said.

The hearings will be held in two or three districts per province to ensure that enough residents can give input.

The committee also recently extended the closing date for written submissions on the bill from Friday, 4 August 2023, to Monday, 4 September 2023.

Opposition to the bill

The bill has received widespread complaints from those in the industry, with a survey from  Clippa Sales and Casa Tabacs showing that 200 specialist tobacconists in South Africa did not support the bill.

“While the Tobacco Bill creates significant trouble for all tobacco products retailers, it is clear from the research into specialist tobacconists that proposing a total ban on displaying the only products they sell in their stores is an existential risk to their businesses. These are legal products that are only sold, by law, to those over the age of 18,” Clippa’s Alex Jacovides said.

98% of respondents said that they did not support the display ban, while 99.5% said that it would be detrimental to their business and affect employment.

According to Diane Bravo, the owner of Casa Tabacs – a specialist tobacco retailer, implementing the display ban would result in the closure of business, negatively affecting the country’s revenue and employment rates.

The bill also prescribes a 10-year prison sentence and/or a fine for displaying cigarettes on the counter – even by accident. 99.5% of respondents said that this punishment was excessive.

Many were also worried that the ban on displaying tobacco products would result in a sharp rise in sales in the illicit tobacco industry – a kin to what took place during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Respondents also flagged the use of standardised or plain packaging in the bill, which would make all cigarettes and related products look similar.

“This makes them easy to counterfeit, which is going to drive crime and lawlessness in our country further and entrench the organised criminal networks that have grown and prospered since the Covid-19 tobacco ban,” Bravo said.


Source: BusinessTech.co.za – https://businesstech.co.za/news/government/711352/new-smoking-laws-for-south-africa-are-coming-including-a-100-public-ban-and-changes-to-packaging/

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