cigarettes lockdown

Photo: Pixabay

Smoking indoors may soon be banned in SA – and there’ll be jail time for offenders

The controversial proposals are open to public comment for just a few more days – but smoking in South Africa could soon become a criminal activity.

cigarettes lockdown

Photo: Pixabay

A draft law that’s set to be submitted to Parliament next month aims to ramp-up the war on smoking in a dramatic fashion. The Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill is set to close for public comment on Friday 9 August – so smokers have about 11 days left to plead their case.

These plans have been in the pipeline for a while now, stretching back to the start of 2018. As well as removing displays of all tobacco products in stores, and enforcing a “10-metre distance” away from buildings where smokers can have a draw, it’s proposed that all designated indoor smoking areas would be banned too.

Where smoking could soon be banned in South Africa

We’re talking restaurants, bars and communal areas where South Africans like to spark up. But it isn’t just public spaces that have come under fire. The Bill would also look to make smoking a criminal offence in private places, like:

  • Enclosed common areas of multi-units residence. Flats and apartments, for example.
  • A private home or dwelling which is used for childcare, employment or schooling purposes.
  • Any indoor space which is within “a reasonable distance” of a strict non-smoking premises.
  • Any motor vehicle which is carrying a child aged 18 or under, or with more than one person in the car.

Proposed jail time for indoor smokers

These proposals have already been labelled as “too restrictive” by some industry professionals. Dr Kgosi Letlape is the co-founder of Africa Harm Reduction Alliance. He has previously claimed that the new rules would “infringe” on the Constitutional rights of those in Mzansi. Well, wait until he hears what punishments have been tabled…

Offenders who are found guilty of breaking this proposed law could be sanctioned with the threat of a hefty fine. But those who contravene the legislation in a more aggressive manner could face the ultimate punitive measure.

The Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill suggests prison sentences are needed to enforce the law, ranging from 3 – 12 months inside. The more lenient sentences would apply to those caught bending the rules in a public space, with longer terms applying to those who violate the aforementioned private locations.

Controlling “modern” smoking methods

This is the first time e-cigarettes are facing strict legislation, as well: “Vaping” is still considered dangerous because nicotine remains toxic. Comprehensive laws regarding where someone can and cannot have a draw on an e-cig would come into effect alongside this bill too, with cigarette vending machines also facing a total bam.