South Africa looks to toughen anti-smoking laws

Smoking Woman

Health authorities intend to tighten South Africa’s anti-smoking laws. They propose a total ban on indoor smoking and even making smoking in open areas such as beaches illegal.

The anti-smoking law will touch upon stadiums, zoos, parks and gardens. As for beaches, smoking would only be permitted at least 50 metres from the closest person.

Smoking Woman

Woman inhaling cigarette smoke

But before enacting any new law, the health ministry will create the possibility to the public to discuss the proposals.

South Africa has tried to improve its legislation to make it tougher for smoking people to indulge in their habit in the second time in five years.

Many people continue smoking, defining the measure as “extreme”, “shameless” and an intervention on people’s rights and this happens in spite of the fact that they will discuss the regulation.

Leon Louw, director of the Free Market Foundation, said that it is hysteria, a kind of particular semi-religious fundamentalist puritanism, a kind of bad attack on other peoples’ choices and lifestyles.

If the regulations passed, they could make up a break of freedom and even cause job losses, the foundation believes.

He added that the anti-tobacco fanatics, the nicotine nazis or nico-nazis evidently will not end until it’s full ban.

In 2007, lawmakers accepted a list of changes that supposed to close gaps in the Tobacco Products Control Act of 1993.

On June 20, the Supreme Court of Appeal approved that law’s blanket ban on tobacco ads.

It refused a British American Tobacco’s lawsuit, which had stated that the limitations violate the company’s free speech rights.

Buoyed by that case, anti-smoking lobbyists are expressing their gladness about the latest strict proposals.

Peter Ucko, director of the National Council Against Smoking, believes that such a measure will help to protect health and that it will work practically.

Pro-smoking lobbyists state that enforcement of such a broad ban would be impossible, but Ucko affirmed that the laws will work.

He said that no one smokes in shopping malls anymore since the 2007 regulations.

Hoteliers appear unfazed by the pending changes.

Eddie Khosa of the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa said that restaurants and pubs will be more affected by the law rather than hotels concerning revenue. If the changes are approved, South Africa would be the first smoke-free African country.

In accordance with the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa, last year about 7.7 million adults were smokers in South Africa, smoking nearly 27 billion cigarettes.

But these figures are 30 % down on those from 10 years ago.

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