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There will soon be new smoking regulations in South Africa, and violators will face fines or perhaps jail time.

Reference: Published by Staff Writer, 13 December 2022


Parliament has received the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill, which marks the beginning of the process to enact suggested changes for smokers and the tobacco industry.

The Department of Health announced that the bill would be introduced in the National Assembly before the end of the year and that an explanation of the proposed laws had been gazetted in October.

The legislation, which was introduced on December 9th, 2022, will now move through the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces before being forwarded to the president for approval.

In general, the bill calls for modifications to tobacco product promotion and packaging as well as the outright prohibition of smoking in public spaces and designated outdoor areas as determined by the minister.

Regulations governing electronic nicotine delivery systems, non-nicotine delivery systems, and issues related to the business are some of the most contentious provisions of the law that have drawn criticism from the booming vape or e-cigarette industry.

The statutes give the minister the authority to enact a wide range of rules:

  • The distance between an operable window, a ventilation inlet, or the entry and exit of a closed public space or workplace and which smoking is prohibited;
  • Smoking is not permitted in or around any outside public space, including workplaces, or in any area of an outdoor public space where doing so could endanger people’s health or cause a fire or other disaster;
  • The measures that the owner or person in charge of a public space must take to prohibit smoking;
  • Any limitations on sales or other regulations to keep kids out of a certain product or a related product;
  • Various controls and regulations on tobacco product packaging and display; and
  • How these laws relate to electronic devices, such as vapes and e-cigarettes.

Those caught in violation of the proposed laws may be subject to a fine, a prison sentence, or both, depending on whatever regulation was broken. For smoking in inappropriate places, prison terms can be as short as three months and as long as twenty years.

Some of the key changes to look out for are as follows:

No-smoking zones

The measure outlines a lengthy list of places that will be considered no-smoking zones, with offenders facing fines or jail time. These consist of:

  • A private space, such as a home or office, or a public vehicle;
  • Any area that is within a set distance of a window that can be opened or a ventilation inlet at an exit or entrance to a location where smoking is not permitted;
  • Any motor vehicle or a youngster or non-smoker in a private, enclosed location;
  • An enclosed communal space within a multi-unit building;
  • According to the Sectional Titles Act and the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act, 2011 (Act No. 8 of 2011), smoking is not permitted in any private residences or anywhere else on the property of a multi-unit residence if it unreasonably impedes the enjoyment of other people who are lawfully on the property;
  • A private residence, provided that the residence is used as a workplace or for any commercial childcare activity, child stay, educational or tutoring purposes, or for other domestic employment;
  • Additionally, the minister may, in their sole discretion, forbid smoking in any outdoor public place, workplace, or specified area thereof where doing so may present a risk to one’s health, safety from fire, or other risk;
  • Any other location the Minister deems appropriate to forbid smoking in order to lessen or stop public exposure to smoking.

Owners, bosses, and domestic staff

The owner or person in charge of a public venue, public conveyance, workplace, or multi-unit house where smoking is prohibited is responsible for ensuring that no smoking occurs.

This involves putting up signs saying it’s not okay to smoke.

Meanwhile, employers need to make sure that:

  • Without fear of reprisal, employees are free to object to anyone smoking in the workplace in violation of this Act;
  • Workers who don’t want to be around smoke at work aren’t exposed to it; and
  • Any employee is not forced to work in an outside area of the workplace where smoking is permitted, either explicitly or implicitly.

For the purposes of this section, a “employer” is any person who hires someone, gives them a job, pays them, or openly or implicitly promises to pay them. This implies that domestic workers are protected by this provision.

Retailing and Packaging

No tobacco product advertising is allowed under the proposed laws. Although this has long been the case in media and sponsorships, the new bill takes it to another level.

When in effect, no tobacco goods may be shown at the point of sale, and retailers and wholesalers may only present the items upon a customer’s request, with a few exceptions.

The legislation would also give the minister the authority to choose the precise materials, typeface, and visuals that go into the package of cigarette goods.

The use of standard or generic brand names and other identifiers will be encouraged:

Unless the brand name and product name appear in a standard color and typeface, along with other permitted or required information like the manufacturer’s details, health warnings, pictures, graphics, and images, fiscal identification markings, etc., all brand elements on, inside, or attached to the packaging or on a specific tobacco product are prohibited.

The laws also provide the minister the authority to establish rules for the labeling and packaging of cigarette devices, electronic nicotine delivery systems, and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems. These rules may include standard packaging.

Health Precautions

The new bill provides for a pamphlet to be supplied with the items that details the health impact of using the product, in addition to the health warnings already present on tobacco products.

The packaging for a product must include a message on each major display area about the product’s harmful health, social, economic, or other negative effects, as well as the advantages of ceasing use of the product or not using it. This rule applies to both tobacco products and electronic delivery systems.

The department’s approved graphics and messages may only be utilized, and warnings cannot take up less than 65% of each major display space.

Sugar cravings without delivery

Any confectionary or sweets that resemble tobacco products are completely prohibited from sale under the proposed laws. These actions are a part of a larger crackdown to prevent kids from getting their hands on these products.

No one is allowed to supply, sell, or promise to supply any candy, toys, or other items that are intended to mimic or have the potential to promote a particular product or a group of similar products.

Additionally, the rules restrict the sale and delivery of pertinent products via internet and courier services.

“No person shall sell, offer for sale, supply or distribute to a consumer any relevant product or connected product through the postal service, courier service, internet, any other electronic media, or by any other means as may be prescribed in furtherance of the purposes of the Act.”

“No person shall purchase a relevant product or a connected product through the postal and courier services, the internet, any other electronic media, or by such other methods as may be prescribed to promote the purposes of the Act.”