The draft for the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill has caused uproar amongst the country’s smokers, and has been available for public comment since 9 May.
The proposed changes include introducing a zero-tolerance ban on in-door smoking in any public space, and that smokers must now also smoke at a distance of 10 meters from the entrance to a public space.
The Bill will also address smoking in the workplace and includes employers who smoke in the presence of their domestic workers or gardeners on their premises. It also notes that you may not smoke in your home if it is used for teaching, tutoring or commercial childcare.
Speaking to BusinessTech, Department of Health spokesperson, Popo Maja, said that the Bill will ensure that all employees are treated equally. – including those who work in private spaces.
“A private space used as a workplace will be regulated like other workplaces,” Maja said.
He also added that employees have the right to object without any fear of retaliation if they were exposed to second-hand smoke from others.
“The bill is just making a policy statement. The regulations will be developed to unpack the intention of the clause,” he said.
Executive consultant at law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, Moshina Chenai, told BusinessTech that the employers bear the duty to ensure that no person smokes in the work area.
Chenai stated that the employer must ensure that:
– Employees who object to smoking in the workplace do not experience any sort of retaliation.
– Employees who do not wish to be exposed to tobacco are not exposed to tobacco.
– If it is not a condition of employment, an employee does not need to be exposed to tobacco smoke in the workplace.
– Employees are not required to sign an indemnity form for working in a portion of the building where smoking is permitted by law.
– An employer who contravenes or fails to comply with the stipulated smoking laws will be liable to a fine or imprisonment.
“The purpose behind these changes is to bring South Africa in line with the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” she said.