Let's clear the smoke

There seems to be a lot of laws that are being changed or added in South Africa which is a good sign of that our democracy is advancing and growing. For s number of years there were consultations on amending the Liquor Bill which is currently in South Africa’s parliament waiting to be signed and made law. Now again there are new laws which are in parliament being discussed and could be made official law by South Africa’s President.

The law, amendments and issue in question here are about the new changes to the Tobacco legislation. As most people would be aware that this is not the first time the regulation of the tobacco industry has come into government and the public’s attention. In 2005 the Tobacco Control Act was passed into law which saw the banning of the advertising of tobacco products and designated smoking areas were put in place where smokers were given 25% of public space to use.

Now in 2018, Government and all stakeholders involved in consultations and drafting the changes to the Tobacco Control Act which sees proposals such as the banning of all public smoking areas, increasing no smoking areas around buildings and especially if the buildings for example, are public institutions such as schools and hospitals.

Other proposed changes also include the removal of branding on all cigarette packaging and regulating electronic cigarettes which are a relatively new industry and product in South Africa.

The new changes to the tobacco laws and industry are seemingly aimed at fighting and improving tobacco control and protecting individuals who might and can be exposed to secondary smoking and health issues which might occur.

South Africa has a multi-billion illicit tobacco industry and furthermore there is little regulation and monitoring of electronic cigarettes also known as e-cigarettes. Globally there are discussions and research being conducted on the health implications which e-cigarettes have. South Africa’s legislation is trying to keep up with international laws and standards when it comes to e-cigarettes.

The ban and removal of public smoking areas is aimed at protecting the health and well-being of non-smokers. Children and vulnerable individuals such as people with lowered immune systems stand greater chances of developing illnesses associated with smoking if they are exposed to smokers in public.

However a concern arises when and if public smoking areas are limited or completely banned. Limiting and banning public smoking areas can lead more and more smokers smoking in their private homes other than in open and isolated smoking areas.

This situation poses health risks to smokers’ families and close circles of non-smokers and greatly increases non-smokers chances of contact with smokers and second hand smoking.

This situation can also lead to young and vulnerable people being exposed to smoking and easy access to cigarettes if adult supervision is not in place. It is a well-known fact that young children are likely to experiment with substances and risky behaviour.

Research and experiences show that in many cases cigarettes are one of the biggest and common gateway drug into other substances.

To prevent and protect young and vulnerable individuals for secondary smoking and being introduced into smoking and possibly other drugs it is important to educate smokers and non-smokers alike about the effects of smoking, secondary smoking and also educate and empower smokers not to put the lives and health of their families and people in their close circles at risk.

Copyright 2018 Tebogo ISSUE Mokhele

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