The portfolio committee on health will begin nationwide public hearings on the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill starting on Friday.
The public hearings take place as the portfolio committee moved the closing date for submission of written comments from August 4 to September 4 after some organisations asked for more time to make submissions.
The bill will repeal the Tobacco Control Act, strengthen public health protection measures and align the country’s tobacco control law with the World Health Organization Framework Convention.
Some of the proposed legislative and policy changes contained in the bill include provision for indoor public places and certain outdoor areas to be 100% smoke-free.
It also provides for the banning of the sale of cigarettes through vending machines and display at point-of-sale, as well as regulating electronic nicotine delivery systems such as vapes and no-nicotine delivery systems.
Committee chairperson Kennet Jacobs said having noted court judgments that highlighted deficiencies in public participation in the law-making process, Parliament and legislatures had committed to enhance the constitutional imperative.
“The hearings are in line with Chapter 59 (1) of South Africa’s Constitution, which compels the National Assembly to facilitate public involvement in the legislative process. Furthermore, the legislative sector adopted a public participation model that places public consultation at the centre of its business,” Jacobs said.
He added the committee had decided to conduct public hearings during the week and on weekends to give stakeholders, organisations and individuals enough opportunities to participate.
Jacobs said the hearings would be held in two to three districts per province to ensure reasonable access for residents to give their input
The first public hearing will be held in Rustenburg, North West, on Friday, followed by another in Klerksdorp on Saturday and Mahikeng on Sunday.