As we observe World No Tobacco Day- a day that highlights abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe.
The City of Cape Town is enforcing the government’s draft tobacco bill that is currently out for public participation.
The Bill will replace existing tobacco legislation and includes a number of aspects that are key to the City’s mandate – enforcement of the legislation and promoting the health and well-being of residents.
The City’s Health Department is responsible for awareness and education around the dangers of smoking and the impact on personal and environmental health, but also the enforcement of tobacco legislation, in conjunction with the Cape Town Traffic Service, Metro Police and the South African Police Service.
Since July 2017, City environmental health practitioners have conducted 17 801 inspections at formal food premises, with a recorded compliance rate of 99%. A total of 37 smoking-related complaints were received and 24 fines were issued during the same period.
Some of the proposals in the Bill that the City is endorsing relate to additional curbs on smoking in public places; the effective shutdown of indoor smoking areas; regulations for electronic devices; and a prohibition on smoking in cars transporting children younger than 18.
‘The fact that the bill proposes fewer opportunities to smoke in public means that the City’s agencies will have a far easier time in terms of enforcement. Currently, one of our biggest headaches is non-compliance at social establishments, particularly nightclubs and establishments not abiding by the provisions of the legislation.
‘More importantly, it will reduce the potential harm caused by second-hand smoke. Respiratory diseases are a major challenge in Cape Town, in part because we continue to have such high rates of smoking. One such example is pneumonia, with 1 in 5 child deaths attributed to the disease. Then there is the impact on smokers themselves, which also places a tremendous burden on our health system, but also communities and the economy at large,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.
The theme for World No Tobacco Day this year is ‘Tobacco and heart disease’. The campaign looks at the link between tobacco and the heart as well as other cardiovascular diseases like strokes which, combined, are the world’s leading causes of death, according to the World Health Organisation. In South Africa, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has indicated that cardiovascular disease is responsible for almost 1 in 6 deaths (17.3%).
‘Many tobacco-related deaths, whether from cardiovascular disease or second-hand smoke, can be avoided. Despite ongoing taxation and fairly stringent legislation, we have not seen a tremendous downturn in smoking rates in Cape Town. That said, the Draft Tobacco Bill has the potential to initiate change that will force people to, at the very least, smoke less. The City will provide input on the Bill and we encourage the public to be part of the process to help us craft legislation that will ultimately benefit public health,’ added Alderman Smith.