Final call for feedback on the Tobacco Bill

Just a brief reminder that the deadline for submitting comments on the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill is Monday, 4th September 2023.

You can share your comments via email with Ms. Vuyokazi Majalamba at tobaccobill@parliament.gov.za or use the online form at https://forms.gle/FLrhnvThDk8ccLG97.

The Bill, which has remained unchanged since its introduction to Parliament in December 2022, brings forth significant challenges for numerous hospitality establishments due to the following points (among others):

  • Smoking/vaping will no longer be allowed in designated indoor areas or certain enclosed outdoor areas. All current indoor smoking areas, whether in accommodation establishments, restaurants, pubs, taverns, casinos, conference centers, or function facilities, will need to close.

The term “enclosed” refers to any space covered by a roof or enclosed by one or more walls or sides, irrespective of the construction materials or temporary/permanent nature of the structure.

  • Smoking areas such as vape lounges, hookah lounges, and cigar bars will be closed.
  • Accommodation establishments cannot designate smoking bedrooms anymore.
  • Smoking/vaping will be prohibited in spaces within a prescribed distance of windows, ventilation inlets, entrances, or exits of smoke-free areas. This distance is expected to be around 10 meters, potentially leading to smokers congregating on the street with safety concerns.
  • Smoking will be forbidden in motor vehicles when a non-smoker or a child is present, including guest transport.
  • Designated indoor smoking areas for employees will be eliminated.
  • Employees can refuse to work in outdoor areas where smoking is permitted.
  • Responsibility lies with the owner or person in control of a public place to prevent smoking in prohibited zones. Managing and enforcing the legislation will be the responsibility of management and employers.
  • Establishments will need to display specific prescribed signs (to be outlined in future Regulations).
  • Point of sale advertising will be prohibited, and tobacco products for sale should not be visible to the public.
  • The Minister has the authority to prohibit smoking in prescribed outdoor public places or workplaces, or specific portions thereof, if smoking poses health, fire, or other hazards.

Non-compliance can lead to various penalties, such as:

  • An owner or person in control of a public place failing to prevent smoking in prohibited areas could face imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine.
  • Failure to display necessary smoking prohibition signs in a public place may result in a fine and/or imprisonment for the owner or person in charge for up to six months.
  • If an employer doesn’t protect employees from workplace smoke, they could be imprisoned for up to ten years and/or fined.

In addition to the outlined restrictions, this statute will impose substantial costs on hospitality establishments that need to adjust existing indoor smoking areas and accommodation establishments that must refurbish or sanitize smoking bedrooms.

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