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Smokers in SA face new restrictions

By Annisa Essack

21:10:2020

Smokers in South Africa are likely to see dramatic changes as the cabinet is prepared to table its new Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill. Not only will the bill extend its reach to the vaping industry, but the threat of a “public cigarette ban” looms in the background.

Deputy Health Minister, Joe Phaahla, in the middle of the midst of the controversial nationwide cigarette ban, confirmed that several amendments would be made to allow the government to better regulate the tobacco industry.

The Bill covers the following:

It aims to bring e-cigarettes and vaping accessories under stricter regulations.

It wants to limit the use, marketing, and sales of certain tobacco products in South Africa.

The Bill gives provision to the government to implement their ‘100% public cigarette ban’.

The proposals are supported by key stakeholders. The Vapour Products Association of South Africa (VPASA) that contrary to popular belief, the industry welcomes the introduction of regulatory frameworks: “VPASA’s second successful diginar in its Vaping Conversations series ended in consensus – that governments, including South Africa’s, should regulate vaping – and that these laws should be grounded in a risk-based approach which ensures users are both educated and informed. All decisions must be based on the latest available scientific data.” VPASA statement

The government though will face resistance, as smokers are still prickly from the five-month prohibition enforced on them during the lockdown. According to the Control of Tobacco Bill, smoking ‘should be prohibited in any public space’ – including bars, restaurants, and outdoor locations.

This would subject cigarettes to similar laws implemented for the smoking of dagga, which is allowed in private pursuits only. There is a battle looming ahead for the tobacco industry as the crux of BATSA’s arguments centres around individual rights and personal freedoms. The cigarette ban clashes with the Constitution when it comes to civil liberties, and this is a line of attack that had some success in court.

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