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More restrictions on the cards for smokers

The Government will issue regulations to tighten the noose on smokers, says Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. ‘These new regulations will, inter alia, restrict the smoking of tobacco outside of buildings,” he said at a World Health Organisation meeting on non-communicable diseases. He said smokers gathering outside buildings in which the use of tobacco was prohibited had become a familiar sight. They stood at the entrance to buildings, polluting the air just outside. “People entering or exiting these buildings have, up to now, been subject to walking through a haze of smoke to the detriment of our health.This is unacceptable and these new regulations will prohibit this practice.”The regulations on Smoking in Public Places and Certain Outdoor Public Places have elicited criticism. Some organisations believe that, among other things, they will infringe on the autonomy of individuals on their own property. Motsoaledi was undeterred on Monday, ‘we have not stopped in our regulation process and will not stop while people are still choosing to smoke tobacco.” Health dept spokesman Joe Maila said the regulations would be gazetted for final publication towards the end of March 2013. The regulations will set down further conditions for smokers such as the distances from other people that they may smoke in public places.The government wants to:

  • Ban smoking within 10 m of entrances and ventilation facilities of any public building.
  • Make all buildings smoke-free zones.
  • Ban smoking at beaches, schools, stadiums as well as in indoor eating and drinking areas.

It is estimated that there are 7.7 million adult smokers in SA but the industry says consumption of legal tobacco products has declined by 30% over the past 10 years. About 2 500 people are employed in the tobacco manufacturing industry, which churns out about 30 million cigarette sticks for local consumption and export.A further 170 farmers and 8 000 farm workers are involved in tobacco farming.