South Africa is being brought back to the forefront of international tobacco control best practice with the latest publishing of The Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, up for public comment until August 9, which proposes substantial changes, including a ban on smoking in any enclosed public space.
The new laws up for consideration are consistent with the country’s obligations under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and will introduce a number of new rules to better regulate tobacco smoking in SA.
This year’s update aims to keep up with global tobacco control recommendations and better allows for the effective regulation of new tobacco products, particularly electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems and heated tobacco products. These products as well as more recently-released ones are not covered under the country’s current legislation, which applies to more traditional tobacco use.
A main focus of the new Bill is the comprehensive prohibition of smoking or holding a cigarette or any other heated tobacco product which produces an emission in all enclosed public spaces, public conveyances, enclosed spaces where children are present, workplaces, or private dwellings used for commercial activities or any outdoor spaces that may propose health risks.
This new ban is in line with the aim to prevent children and bystanders from being exposed to harmful secondhand smoke, as it has been established that designated smoking areas are ineffective and still expose unsuspecting parties to secondhand smoke.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is pleased with these new restrictions as it reminds the public how dangerous exposure to tobacco smoke is – it actively causes death, disease and disability – and effective measures are needed to protect the public from exposure.
Emissions from electronic devices have also been found to contain toxicants, metals nicotine and other potentially harmful substances. These products have lower levels of harmful substances than tobacco cigarettes but can still negatively impact users in the long term.
As this is a conflict between the tobacco industry interests and the consideration of public health, this industry has long aimed to undermine the implementation of necessary public health policies. These intentions have been identified and are being actively uprooted.
Other interesting points of the Bill include smokers needing to be at least 10 metres away from public entrances while smoking outside, the suggested removal of all signage on cigarette packages aside from the brand name and warning stickers, and the suggestion that retailers may no longer publicly display cigarettes.
As the laws are soon to be finalizsd big changes could be coming for South African smokers, so if you’ve got an interest in how tobacco is managed in our country or are concerned for the safety for those being unwillingly exposed to emissions, have your say.