Proposed tobacco law aims at protecting public health

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The Control of the Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill is currently before Parliament and is aimed at strengthening South Africa’s public health protection measures, SA News reports.

Graphic health warnings and regulation of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

Various changes will be coming into effect if this bill is passed. This includes the following:

Smoke free indoor public and certain outdoor spaces

A ban the sale of cigarettes through vending machines

The introduction of plain packaging with graphic health warnings/pictorials;

A ban on display at point of sale

Regulation as well as control of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENNDS).

Cabinet announced that it had approved the submission of the bill to Parliament in September 2022 after it was first published in May 2018.

The bill is said to have gone through extensive consultation with various stakeholders such as the tobacco industry, civil-society organisations and the relevant government departments.

ALSO READ: Youth forum calls for Tobacco Control Bill of 2018 to be passed into law

Second-hand smoke still a hazard to non-smokers

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people who do not smoke tobacco but are exposed to second-hand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25-30%.

Second-hand smoke is also said to have caused more than 7 300 lung cancer deaths each year among adults in the United States who do not smoke.

This as people who do not smoke but are exposed to second-hand smoke are inhaling many of the same cancer-causing substances and poisons that are inhaled by people who smoke.

Second-hand tobacco smoke and health problems in infants

In addition to adults, infants can suffer serious health problems from second-hand smoke.

WHO reports that smoking during pregnancy causes over 1,000 infant deaths every year.

Secondhand smoke during pregnancy can lead to lower birth weights for newborns, increasing their health risks

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is more likely to occur in infants exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke after birth

The chemicals in secondhand smoke appear to interfere with the brain’s ability to regulate infants’ breathing

ALSO READ: What controls can be put in Africa to curb the use of Tobacco?

Tobacco industry targeting children

Deputy Director at the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), Dr Sharon Nyatsanza has stated that the tobacco industry is targeting children.

“Historically up until today, the industry because it has to sell the product has to make money. It also targets children because that’s where the make or break of the industry really is. They target children as replacement smokers.” Nyatsanza said.

Nyatsanza further states that the industry manages to frame the product as a lifestyle product.
She stated that an example of this would be e-cigarettes, the flavours and colourfulness. Placing this as a lifestyle product causes a problem with children being attracted to the product.

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