Call for Public Comment on the Tobacco Products & Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill: Concerns and implications for businesses in the hospitality sector

The Portfolio Committee on Health has released the Tobacco Products & Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill for public comment.

There are noteworthy concerns regarding this Bill, particularly regarding the heavy burden it places on owners and managers. For instance, failure to prevent smoking in a prohibited area could lead to imprisonment for up to 10 years.

Implications of the Unchanged Tobacco Products & Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill on Hospitality Establishments

The Bill, which has remained unchanged since its introduction to Parliament in December 2022, will present substantial challenges for numerous hospitality establishments due to the following reasons, among others:

  1. Smoking and vaping will no longer be allowed in designated indoor areas or specific enclosed outdoor spaces. All existing indoor smoking areas in accommodation establishments, restaurants, pubs, taverns, casinos, conference centers, and function facilities will be required to close.
  2. “Enclosed” is defined as any space covered by a roof or enclosed by walls or sides, regardless of the material used or the temporary or permanent nature of the structure.
  3. Smoking areas such as vape lounges, hookah lounges, and cigar bars will need to be closed.
  4. Accommodation establishments will no longer be permitted to allocate smoking bedrooms.
  5. Smoking or vaping will be prohibited within a prescribed distance of operable windows, ventilation inlets, entrances, or exits of smoke-free areas. The prescribed distance, likely around 10 meters, may result in smokers congregating on the street, posing safety concerns.
  6. Smoking will be prohibited in motor vehicles when a non-smoker or a child is present, including guest transport.
  7. Designated indoor smoking areas for employees will no longer be allowed.
  8. Employees will have the right to refuse working in outdoor areas where smoking is permitted.
  9. Owners or persons in control of public places will be responsible for ensuring compliance with smoking prohibitions, placing the burden of enforcement on management and employers.
  10. Establishments will be required to display prescribed signs, the details of which will be published in future Regulations.
  11. Point-of-sale advertising will be prohibited, and tobacco products on sale must not be visible to the public.
  12. The Minister may additionally prohibit smoking in prescribed outdoor public places or workplaces, or specific portions thereof, if smoking poses health, fire, or other hazards.

Non-compliance penalties include:

  • Owners or persons in control of public places failing to prevent smoking where prohibited may face imprisonment of up to five years and/or fines.
  • Failure to display required signs around smoking prohibitions in public places can result in fines and/or imprisonment of up to six months for the owner or person in charge.
  • Employers not protecting employees from workplace smoke may face imprisonment of up to ten years and/or fines.

In addition to the aforementioned restrictions, the legislation will impose significant costs on hospitality establishments that need to reintegrate existing indoor smoking areas and on accommodation establishments that must renovate or sanitize smoking bedrooms.

We recommend that FEDHASA members provide direct feedback to the committee by no later than 4 August 2023. Please consider copying FEDHASA at info@fedhasa.co.za.

FEDHASA will also make a formal representation on this matter.

To view the draft document click below:

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