Last chance to ignite comment on smoking ban

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans have until Thursday to comment on the proposed Tobacco Control Bill.

If passed, the bill will ban smoking indoors and smoking inside cars with children under 18 years.

READ: How South Africa is tightening its tobacco rules

There are five key areas of tobacco control that the new bill seeks to address: A smoke-free public places policy, plain or standardised cigarette packaging, regulating e-cigarettes, points of sale marketing, and removing cigarette vending machines.

The current law bans smoking in public places but allows for designated smoking areas in places like bars, taverns and restaurants provided that they do not take up more than 25 percent of the venue.

South Africa hopes to comply with the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which it signed in 2005.

The WHO’s convention calls for 100 percent smoke-free public places to protect non-smokers fully.

READ: Department of Health wants to ban outdoor, indoor smoking areas

In line with this, the new bill calls for a 100 percent ban on smoking in public places. It will also ban the advertising of cigarettes and other products at tills or selling them in vending machines.

The South African Informal Traders Alliance says the move will cripple their industry.

They commented that if the government approves this legislation, cigarettes will have to be hidden in retail stores and the lack of display will hinder the choices that consumers should have when purchasing a product.