Just when smokers thought sin tax and the 1% VAT increase got the best of them, they now have to face an onslaught of new regulations.
Department of Health Director-General Precious Matsoso has announced that new proposals for changes to South Africa’s smoking laws will be presented in the next two weeks.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi previously outlined the expected changes when he presented the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act last year.
He said the Act would be submitted to Cabinet for approval in early 2018. The regulation plans to ban smoking in all public places and control electronic cigarettes.
Two years ago, Motsoaledi said that he would consider banning branding from cigarette packaging and insisted that manufacturers put pictures of people suffering from smoke-related diseases on their packs.
The proposal includes a number of strict new smoking laws:
- A zero-tolerance policy on indoor smoking in public places (including the removal of designated smoking areas in restaurants);
- A ban on outdoor smoking in public places;
- When smoking outside, smokers must be at least 10 metres away from public entrances;
- The removal of all signage on cigarette packaging aside from the brand name and warning stickers;
Cigarettes may also no longer be publicly displayed by retailers.
While the proposals were praised by some, it is also likely that they will be met with steep resistance, especially in the multi-billion rand business sector.
South Africa, once a leader in tobacco control, has lagged behind in controlling these products, which kill an estimated seven million people every year. The National Council Against Smoking confirmed last November that it had been consulted about draft regulations.
Cabinet met last week and it is understood that Motsoaledi outlined the regulations there.