‘Draft smoking laws excessively restrictive’

2012-07-02 09:22

The draft regulations on smoking in public places and certain outdoor public places are too restrictive, the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (Tisa) said.

“Although the tobacco sector supports the regulation of smoking in public places ... [it] is excessively restrictive,” Tisa CEO Francois van der Merwe said in a statement today.

Tisa had submitted comments to the department of health highlighting certain concerns.

When the Tobacco Products Control Act 1993 was passed into law it made provision for the minister to prescribe regulations for designated indoor smoking areas, he said. Now the draft regulations prohibited smoking indoors.

“This, we believe, is not in line with the spirit and purpose of the act,” said Van der Merwe.

He said banning indoor smoking areas would effectively make it illegal to have vending machines selling tobacco products. In terms of the act, vending machines were allowed to be placed only in designated indoor smoking areas.

Van der Merwe said Tisa also felt that Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi had acted beyond the powers given to him in the act.

“We could not find any provision in the act empowering the minister to prescribe that people cannot be served food, beverage, or be entertained or that ‘smokers are to be discouraged from remaining in the area longer than is necessary to smoke a cigarette’,” he said.

“We also believe that there are certain clauses in the draft regulations that are vague and uncertain.”

One of these was the draft regulation prohibiting smoking on beaches “not less that 50 metres away from the closest person near the demarcated swimming area”.

Van der Merwe said public smoking laws needed to be practical and enforceable, and fair to both smokers and non-smokers.

“We believe that the existing regulations on smoking in public places ... work well and provide for both smokers and non-smokers.

“We believe that additional enforcement and not additional regulations will be more effective.”

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