7 May 2008
The Parliament’s portfolio committee on health is to hold hearings on amendments to the Tobacco Control Act, in an effort to further enhance the control of tobacco products and promote healthy lifestyles.
Addressing a Social Cluster briefing on Monday, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said amending the Bill was part of the Department of Health’s “healthy lifestyles” campaign, which seeks to encourage South Africans to adopt and practice healthy lifestyles as part of decreasing the burden of disease facing the country.
The hearings, which will take place this week, seek to amend the Act to be in line with the international standards set in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Tshabalala-Msimang said the amendment Bill included “strengthening sections which prohibit advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and the regulation of smoking in public places”.
She said the amended Bill would also introduce picture-based health warnings as well as the removal of misleading descriptions such as “mild” and “light”, which carries a fine of R1-million.
“The Bill increases the penalties so that they become a real deterrent against contravention of the Act,” she said. “The fine for the owner of a public place or employer who fails to ensure that there is no smoking in a smoke free area has been increased from R10 000 to R50 000.”
The penalty for selling tobacco products to a minor (persons aged under 18) has been increased from R10 000 to R50 000, while the penalty for advertising and promotion has been increased from R200 000 to R1-million.
Also included are new offences such as failing to protect employees from tobacco smoke pollution, selling tobacco products in a health institution and retailer not complying with point of sale conditions.
This was part of the department’s approach in dealing with comprehensive healthcare, which looks at health promotion, reduction of communicable and non-communicable diseases and the unnatural causes of death such as accidents and injuries.
Besides the amendments to the Tobacco Control Act in its drive toward healthier lifestyles for all South Africans, the department was also increasing the number of health promoting schools from 3500 to at least 5000 schools.
These schools have initiated the programmes to prevent tobacco use, development of food gardens and sports participation.