As the submission deadline for public comment on the proposed new tobacco bill approaches, the debate has heated up from all sides.
The Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems and Control Bill is currently before Parliament for consideration, with the public comment period closing on August 4.
The bill aims to regulate the sale and advertising of tobacco products and electronic delivery systems; regulate and standardise packaging; provide standards concerning manufacturing and exports; prohibit the free distribution of tobacco products; and prohibit the sale of tobacco products in vending machines.
Small businesses have raised their concerns about the regulations placing a complete ban on the display of all tobacco products.
This will mean products may not be visible in shops.
In a survey by distributor Clippa Sales, specialist tobacconists said they wanted to be exempted from the ban.
“A survey conducted among more than 200 specialist tobacconists in South Africa, representing 1 769 stores that directly employ a collective 3 194 people, has indicated overwhelming opposition to the new bill.
“It includes a complete ban on the display of all tobacco and related products across all retail channels, even in specialist tobacco stores.
“In the case of specialist tobacconists, it’s in most cases the only product they sell. The ban includes the display of cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, vapes, hookah pipes and heat not-burn devices.”
Limpopo Tobacco Processors was also not in support of the bill, saying it would increase illicit trade in tobacco.
“It’s almost a prohibition, it stops just short of prohibition, and we know prohibition doesn’t work and will increase illicit trade.”
Philip Morris South Africa on Wednesday said indicators suggested the South African tobacco market showed no signs of slowing down.
Despite advertising restrictions and the pending bill, the country remained at 23 among the countries with the highest smoking rates in the world, it noted.
“According to the World Population Review 2023, South Africa’s total smoking rate is at 31.4%, and from that 46.8% of smokers are male and 16% female.
It said more needed to be done between the government and commercial entities to accelerate efforts to reduce smoking rates (https://tinyurl. com/2s4xwrjd).