Law a drag for smokers

2013-06-07 00:00

CAPE TOWN — A few quick drags on pavements or verandas outside restaurants may soon become illegal deeds.

The new regulations that govern smoking in public places and outdoor areas are in the final phase before they are promulgated, Joe Maila, spokesperson for Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, said this week.

He said their legal team were revising the regulations. He could not say when the new non-smoking areas would be promulgated, but confirmed the process was in the “absolute last, last stage”.

The draft regulations were gazetted in March last year, after which the public was invited to comment.

The new proposed non-smoking areas include:

• areas within 10 metres of a restaurant’s door or window;

• schools or sites where children are looked after;

• stadiums, sport arenas, play grounds or zoos;

• health facilities;

• outdoor eating or drinking areas;

• places that serve as outdoor venues;

• parking areas and pedestrian crossings that are roofed; and

• on a beach within 50 metres from someone who is swimming in a demarcated area.

Owners of restaurants will be held liable for smokers puffing away in no-smoking areas. They must ensure that there are no ashtrays in those parts of their restaurants designated as no-smoking areas.

Restaurants may equip a smoking area. They may, however, not serve food or entertainment in the smoking room, and it may not be near a pavement or area where people often walk past.

No children under 18 will be allowed in the smoking area and smokers will be encouraged not to linger longer than their cigarettes last.

Professor Michael Herbst, head of the health department in the Cancer Association of South Africa, said passive smoking is as carcinogenic as smoking.

He said very few people smoked without a filter these days, which gives some protection against arsenic, nicotine and carbon dioxide. He said passive smokers are directly exposed to these highly toxic gases, adding that third-hand smoke was as bad. This is when the toxins in smoke settle on furniture and floors.

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