Public hearings scheduled in Gauteng for Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill

The Portfolio Committee on Health is set to conduct public hearings this week in Gauteng concerning the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill. The details for the hearings are as follows:

24 November: Lesedi Municipality, Heidelberg Town Hall – 14:30 to 19:30

25 November: West Rand Region, Westonaria Banquet Hall – 10:00 to 15:00

26 November: Tshwane Region, Tshwane House, Pretoria Central – 10:00 to 15:00

Interested parties are encouraged to provide observations on the Tobacco Products & Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill, with details on how to submit to be added to the official website.

The Bill, remaining unchanged since its introduction to Parliament in December 2022, proposes significant changes that will impact numerous hospitality establishments. Key provisions include the prohibition of smoking and vaping in designated indoor areas or specific enclosed outdoor spaces. This entails the closure of existing designated indoor smoking areas in accommodation establishments, restaurants, pubs, taverns, casinos, conference centres, and function facilities, among others.

The bill defines “enclosed” as any space covered by a roof or enclosed by walls or sides. The implications include the closure of smoking areas like vape lounges, hookah lounges, and cigar bars. Accommodation establishments will no longer be allowed to designate smoking bedrooms.

Additional restrictions include the prohibition of smoking or vaping within a prescribed distance of windows, ventilation inlets, entrances, or exits of smoke-free areas. Smoking in any motor vehicle with a non-smoker or child present, the discontinuation of designated indoor smoking areas for employees, and the prohibition of point-of-sale advertising and visible tobacco products are also outlined.

Penalties for non-compliance include imprisonment for up to five years and/or fines for public place owners failing to prevent smoking where prohibited. Employers not safeguarding employees against workplace smoke may face imprisonment for up to ten years and/or fines.

Aside from these restrictions, the bill is anticipated to bring substantial costs for hospitality establishments required to re-integrate existing indoor designated smoking areas and for accommodation establishments needing to revamp or sanitise smoking bedrooms. Public input on these matters is crucial, and the hearings provide an opportunity for stakeholders to express their views on the proposed changes.

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