What are the bylaws for smoking and vaping?

by Laurel Pretorius
South Africa has very strict rules and regulations regarding smoking and vaping. Let’s take a closer look at the country’s Tobacco Ac
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South Africa has very strict rules and regulations regarding smoking and vaping. Let’s take a closer look at the country’s Tobacco Act. By Laurel Pretorius.

In recent years, South Africa has witnessed a significant shift in public health policies concerning smoking and vaping. The government has implemented various strict regulations to try and address mounting concerns over the impact of smoking and vaping on individuals’ health and well-being.

Understanding these bylaws is crucial for all of us, from people safeguarding their health by avoiding second-hand smoke and tobacconists making money off people who have smoking addictions, to parents navigating the complexities of raising children in a society where smoking and vaping are unhealthily prevalent.

Understanding the law about smoking & vaping

South Africa has taken strides (and rather drastic ones according to smokers and the tobacco industry) to restrict smoking in public spaces and safeguard citizens from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. The Tobacco Products Control Act of 1993 laid the groundwork for stringent regulations on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship.

Then South Africa’s Smoke-Free Environment Act, enacted in 2000, put even stricter laws in place and was a significant milestone as the act prohibited smoking in certain public places, including indoor workplaces, public transportation, and enclosed areas such as restaurants and shopping malls.

The aim of this legislation was to create environments that are completely smoke-free allowing people to thrive without exposure to harmful second-hand smoke.

Subsequent amendments have expanded the scope of these restrictions, with the latest being the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill of 2018 to include rules around vaping.

Read: The long term effects of vaping

What about vaping bylaws?

While vaping, or the use of electronic delivery systems (EDS), is often perceived as a less harmful alternative to smoking, concerns have emerged regarding its long-term health effects, especially among young people.

So, as a way of curbing a trend that is growing at an “unhealthy” rate, the South African government has responded by incorporating vaping into its tobacco control framework.

In other words, it is also prohibited in certain public spaces, including indoor areas and workplaces. Furthermore, advertising and promotion of vaping products are subject to stricter limitations to prevent enticing young individuals into adopting these habits.

Also read: The dangers of teen vaping

Spelling it out

Parents should be comforted by the fact that several of the stringent smoking bylaws have been implemented to protect the youth of South Africa by curbing underage use.

Here are the rules and regulations regarding smoking and vaping as they stand currently in our country based on the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act:

  1. It prohibits the sale of tobacco products and electronic delivery systems to individuals under the age of 18.
  2. It regulates smoking and advertising of cigarettes and vapes.
  3. It prohibits smoking in enclosed public spaces and certain outdoor areas.
  4. Establishments may choose to have Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs) but they must meet the specific ventilation requirements.
  5. Advertising tobacco products is heavily restricted across various media.
  6. Tobacco packaging must display prominent health warnings.
  7. Regulations on vaping include restrictions on sales and advertising.
  8. Tobacco products are subject to excise taxes.
  9. Government agencies can enforce tobacco control regulations, imposing serious fines for non-compliance.

Currently, the government is wanting to impose even stricter smoking and vaping bylaws on South Africa, which will have quite a harsh knock-on effect in the tobacco industry. It may see the manufacturers of cigarettes and vapes as well as tobacco retailers lose a great deal of money and even see smaller businesses shut down. Needless to say, the tobacco industry is fighting back.

By working together with policymakers and communities, perhaps we can come to a healthy middle ground, one that protects the health of South Africans from the harms of smoking but also saves hundreds of South African tobacco businesses from going up in a puff of smoke.

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