The draft regulations would criminalise smoking in any building, outdoor venue, public or private beach, outdoor drinking or eating area, park, walkway, parking area, or within 10 metres of any doorway or window.

Xolani Koyana

SOME businesses and customers are concerned about a proposed ban on designated smoking areas, but an Athlone restaurant is already preparing to dismantle its smoking zone.

The deadline for comment on proposed amendments to toughen the Tobacco Products Control Act by the Department of Health was on Friday.

Should the new regulation be passed there would be a complete ban on smoking indoors and in certain outdoor public places, such as stadiums and sports arenas, parking lots, walkways and service lines. On beaches, smokers will have to be at least 50m from other people. Smokers will not be allowed to light up within 10m of a window or doorway in a public place.

Employers and the owners of establishments such as restaurants would be allowed to demarcate an outdoor area for smokers subject to stringent conditions. Among these are that no food or refreshments be served in the designated smoking area.

A manager at a restaurant in the city who asked not to be named said concerned customers had been asking questions. “I don’t think it’s going to affect our business that much but our customers are worried. They have been asking what they are going to do, how this was going to work. It would be good for us not to have that (smoking) area but they are very concerned. We are also worried because a large part of our business comes from smokers.”

Spur at Vangate Mall plans to take down its smoking area before the end of the month, said operations manager Francois Muller. An employee said some customers were complaining about plans to take away the smoking area.

British America Tobacco’s head of corporate and regulatory affairs in SA, Leslie Rance, said many businesses in the hospitality sector had spent a lot of money to comply with the existing regulations.

“We believe that the government should allow the owners of businesses in the hospitality industry to continue making provisions for adult smokers, as they account for a significant percentage of their revenue.”

Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa chief executive Francois van der Merwe said although the organisation supported the regulations they felt that they were “excessively restrictive”.

Their comments were submitted to the Department of Health on Friday.

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