The Department of Health has encouraged the public to participate actively in government efforts to strengthen the current tobacco control measures by submitting comments on the Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill.
The bill aims to promote public health and align the South African tobacco control legislation with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. It was approved by Cabinet and gazetted on 9 May 2018 for public comments for a period of three months, which ends on 9 August.
It seeks to implement a total ban on smoking in indoor public places such as restaurants and certain outdoor public places such as stadia. It also advocates for plain packaging of tobacco products, which includes pictorials and health warnings to make tobacco products less attractive.
Today, South Africa joins the global community to mark World No Tobacco Day, which aims to create awareness about the dangers of tobacco.
The day is commemorated annually on 31 May to highlight the health and other risks associated with tobacco use, and advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.
Tobacco free generation
The 2018 commemoration is held under the theme ‘Tobacco and heart disease - A call for a Tobacco Free Generation’.
The Department of Health said it will use the commemoration to focus on strengthening legislative measures to curb the demand for tobacco products.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than seven million people each year.
More than six million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use, while around 890 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
WHO Country Representative in South Africa, Dr Rufaro Chatora, congratulated South Africa on the tobacco control bill.
“South Africa is to be congratulated on a comprehensive tobacco control bill designed to effectively regulate existing tobacco products, as well as novel and emerging nicotine and tobacco products, which shows leadership in implementing global best practice to address the tobacco epidemic.
“[The bill] is consistent with South Africa’s obligations under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and brings South Africa back to the forefront of international tobacco control best practice,” Chatora said. – SAnews.gov.za