13 AUGUST 2019


Companies trying to rid the world of plastic waste

Johannesburg – New smoking laws in South Africa might seek to protect both smokers and non-smokers, but some organisations believe new legislation will result in a spike in criminal activity and millions of people going hungry.

Government and civil rights organisations stand firm in their belief that the vulnerable, including young children, need to be safeguarded against the serious and often deadly effects of tobacco and related products.

But the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (Tisa) has described the draft Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill as “one of the most extreme and draconian pieces of tobacco control legislation in the world”.

Tisa chairperson Francois van der Merwe told The Saturday Star this week that if passed, the draft legislation – which is currently with the Department of Health and still needs to go back to the Cabinet, after which it will be tabled in Parliament – also infringes on the freedom of choice of South Africans.

“The reality is tobacco use is legal and adults over 18 have the right to use tobacco products,” said Van der Merwe. “If the legal tobacco industry is regulated out of existence, jobs will be lost and employment in the entire value chain will be threatened.”

The draft Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, which was published in May last year and has since sparked widespread public debate, proposes several new smoking laws.

These include a zero-tolerance policy on indoor smoking in public places, including the removal of designated smoking areas in restaurants.

The bill also seeks to place a ban on outdoor smoking in public places and wants smokers to be at least 10m from public entrances when consuming tobacco products outside.

The draft legislation also threatens the removal of all signage on cigarette packaging aside from the brand name and warning stickers, and would prohibit retailers from publicly displaying cigarettes.

The draft bill also wants to control electronic cigarettes which include acclaimed brands such as “Twisp” or “Vapes”.

READ MORE: Tobacco bill criticised for including e-cigarettes

While the effects of the draft legislation continue to be debated, leading health organisations such the World Health Organisation (WHO) has sanctioned it.

“The prohibition is in line with tobacco control best practice to protect bystanders and children from exposure to harmful second-hand tobacco product emissions,” the WHO told The Saturday Star.

It insisted that tobacco was “deadly in any form”.

“Smoked tobacco products contain over 7000 chemicals, including at least 250 chemicals known to be toxic or to cause cancer.

“Use of smokeless tobacco products can result in serious, sometimes fatal, health problems.”

The WHO said that non-smokers who might inhale tobacco products at public indoor places, workplaces and public transport hubs also faced serious health risks as a result of the second-hand smoke.

“Second-hand tobacco smoke is present in virtually all public places where smoking is permitted, and there is no safe level of exposure.

“Globally, it is estimated that about one third of adults are regularly exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke.

“Second-hand tobacco smoke is estimated to cause a million premature deaths a year worldwide.”

These sentiments were echoed by the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) which also supports the introduction of the draft bill in South Africa.

NCAS executive director Savera Kalideen said the bill would make smokers and non-smokers more aware of the harm of tobacco consumption.

“There is no single part of the body that is not harmed by tobacco consumption,” she said.

“Smokers are at risk of developing cancers, heart disease, respiratory diseases such as emphysema and many other serious illnesses.”

Kalideen added that there was no safe level of exposure to second-hand-smoke.

“‘This is because second-hand smoke contains more than 7000 chemicals and at least 70 carcinogens.”

She said that children were also at risk of serious health complications if they were to inhale smoke emitted from tobacco products.

“In children, second-hand smoke causes sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, impaired lung function and respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and coughing and breathlessness.”

While the proposals of the draft Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, which was first mooted in 2015, has received widespread praise from various organisations, Tisa maintains that the current regulations on smoking in public places, which accommodate both smokers and non-smokers, should remain in place.

“If these laws are enforced effectively and consistently, it will negate the need for more stringent tobacco control legislation,” said Van der Merwe.

He added that instead of changing smoking laws, more focus should be placed on education programmes about the harmful effects of smoking.

He also called for more action to be taken against the illicit trade in tobacco products which he believed was robbing the country of millions in revenue.

“No amount of regulation will assist the government in meeting its health objective of a reduction in smoking incidence if the illicit trade in tobacco products is not dealt with effectively.”

While the WHO believes that the draft Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill is consistent with South Africa’s obligations under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and brings South Africa back to the forefront of international tobacco control best practice, Tisa considers it to be out of touch with the country’s realities.

“The reality is that almost 80% of all cigarettes sold in SA are sold in the informal, non-organised trade, and most of these are sold as single cigarettes from open packs,” said Van der Merwe.

“The informal trade consists of thousands of small shops, spaza shops, corner cafés, hawkers, roving hawkers, table tops and street vendors.”

“Such a ban will simply either criminalise or kill thousands of small businesses in our country.”

If these new smoking laws were implemented, Van der Merwe maintained that all South Africans would be affected by issues not even related to smoking.

“If the legal tobacco industry disappears, the market will be flooded by illicit, unregulated products on which no taxes are paid.

“Government loses income, which translates into less money for service delivery, which directly impacts South African society as a whole.

“Tisa supports balanced regulation which is evidence-based, workable and enforceable and which has a chance of achieving the stated objective of reduced consumption, while allowing the tobacco sector to make its meaningful contribution to the economy.

“A policy of accommodating both smokers and non-smokers is sensible, whereas a total ban makes no sense, is impossible to enforce and will make law enforcement chase after smokers instead of focusing on real issues in our country relating to crime, which is out of control.”

Smoking laws update


11 JULY 2019


The strict new law would also ban smoking cars containing children, as well as classing vapes in the same category as cigarettes.



New anti-smoking laws in South Africa will ban smoking sections at restaurants and smoking in a car containing children.

It would also ban smoking in cars containing children and class vaping as a health hazard akin to smoking cigarettes.

Anti-smoking law could be too harsh

“There has to be a measure of knowing what our Constitution says, and people have rights,” he said.

“Just like we see the change on the dagga scene, where it is becoming legal despite the known harmful effects, people are now looking at what are the benefits for those using it.”

Smoking on the decline

That being said, he does support anti-smoking laws and pointed to the positive effects previous legislation has had.

“But we need to be careful not to get to a point where there are still people that are not quitting and the safer alternatives offered, that is the point that we are raising,” he continued.

“The rate of smoking has gone down, and many places are pleasant for all of us to use. And we need to look at the evidence and signs to alternatives of tobacco.”

Vaping in the crosshairs

While he is convinced the biggest danger is combusting tobacco, Lynne Moeng, Chief director – Department of Health’s health promotion disagreed. She is adamant vaping needs to be included in the legislation.

“When they are left unmanaged and uncontrolled, they don’t only end up with parents smoking [a vape], but a lot of young people using them,” she said.

“The way these vaping products are currently marketed, we are not able to control that marketing. We are talking about 100% smoke-free public places like restaurants.

“The danger is not only on smokers, but secondary smoking that people who work in those restaurants inhale is just as harmful.”

World No Tobacco day

The discussion took place on 31 May – World No Tobacco day – so there was no shortage of evidence about the ills of smoking floating around the internet at the time.

If you are a smoker and you want to quit the CANSA website has some very useful information about the health risks of smoking, the benefits of stopping and how to kick the habit.

Legislative update


06 JUNE 2019


Regulations to ban smoking in all public spaces, remove branding from cigarettes packs and control electronic cigarettes will be published within two weeks.

The 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH), Cape Town, South Africa,
JoseŽ Luis Castro, WCTOH co-chair; Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health, South Africa.
Photo©The Union/Steve Forrest/Workers’ Photos

This is according to Health Director General Precious Matsoso, who was speaking on the sidelines of the World Conference on Tobacco or Health, which opened for the first time in Africa yesterday.

“I had hoped they would be published this week to coincide with the conference, but they are still being discussed by the Cabinet sub-committee,” said Matsoso.

Two years ago, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi indicated that government wanted to introduce the new regulations but admitted yesterday that South Africa had “lagged behind” in its fight against tobacco control.

“In 2005, we compromised and allowed smoking in 25 percent of public spaces but we are going to take that space away to protect everyone,” said Motsoaledi, addressing the opening the conference.

“We are also committed to plain packaging,” he added. “We are looking at regulating all nicotine delivery systems including electronic systems because we need to control those.”

Fighting back

“All the signs are there that the tobacco industry is staging a fight-back after a slew of tobacco control legislation in the past two decades,” said Motsoaledi. “They are targeting young people in Africa. In the US, they are targeting African American people, the homeless and mentally ill. They are targeting young, working class and the most vulnerable people. We need activism against this onslaught.”

The tobacco industry and the food industry used job creation to defend themselves against government regulation “but are we creating these jobs for corpses?” asked the minister.

Meanwhile, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that Africa was “ground zero” for tobacco companies, who had identified it as a major growth market.

But, said Tedros, six out of 10 people in the world were now protected by some of the measures developed by the WHO against smoking, and that eight African countries had introduced picture warnings of he effects of smoking on cigarette packs.

No co-operation

Tedros appealed to all governments not to co-operate with the tobacco industry, including the recently formed Foundation for a Smoke-free World, financed by Marlboro manufacturer Philip Morris, and headed by former WHO official Derek Yach.

Billionaire philanthropist and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that “one billion people will die this century from smoking despite our efforts”.

“The tobacco industry is doing everything to circumvent our efforts to control tobacco to sell a product that is deadly and kills the people who use it,” said Bloomberg, who has donated over $1-billion to tobacco control.

However, Bloomberg said there had been remarkable gains: “In the US, you cannot go into a restaurant and smoke. In Shanghai, the government owns the tobacco companies but it no longer allows smoking in public.” – Health-e News.

Legislative update


04 JUNE 2019


The Department of Health has officially released its Draft Tobacco Bill for public comment.

Among other proposals, the Draft Bill plans to ban smoking in certain public spaces and significantly clamp down on what advertising may be used to promote tobacco products.

These changes include:

  • A zero-tolerance policy on in-door smoking in public places (including the removal of designated smoking areas in restaurants);
  • A ban on outdoor smoking in certain public places;
  • The removal of all signage on cigarette packaging aside from the brand name and warning stickers;
  • Cigarettes may no longer be publicly displayed by retailers.

While a number of these proposed changes have been well documented in the media, the official publication of the regulations has also revealed a number of other proposals which could prove to be more controversial among the South African public.

According to a American Cancer Society (ACS) report released in March, more than 55,000 children (10-14 years old) and 6,321,000 adults (15+ years old) continue to use tobacco each day in South Africa.

This means that a large portion of the population is likely to be affected by the regulations – while arguably an even larger number of people are likely to benefit from the reduction of harmful second-hand smoke.

These other changes include:

  1. A ban on smoking in any motor vehicle when a child under the age of 18 years is present and there is more than one person present in that vehicle.
  2. An extension of these laws to not only cigarettes, but also any devices used in connection with tobacco products and electronic delivery systems such as pipes, water pipes and electronic devices.
  3. A ban on smoking in any enclosed common areas of a multi-unit residence.
  4. The Minister may prohibit smoking in any outdoor public place or workplace if they believe it would be in the public interest.
  5. Stricter rules on the depiction of any tobacco products – including a ban on the sale of any confectionery or toy that resembles or is intended to represent a tobacco product.
  6. Harsh jail time or a fine depending on the severity of the offence. For example those caught smoking in banned areas will receive a fine or or prison time up to 3 months, while those found guilty of manufacturing or importing tobacco products which do not meet the new requirements and existing standards could face a fine and imprisonment of up to 10 years.