Pretoria - Mayor Solly Msimanga on Thursday issued a stern warning to those violating the City of Tshwane’s smoking policy.
He was announcing his decision to dust off the anti-smoking report approved by council in 2012 and enforce it to prohibit smoking in all municipal buildings.
Anybody caught transgressing the policy would be slapped with a fine, ranging between R700 and R1 000, he said.
“While the policy has been in effect since 2012, the DA-led multiparty administration has now taken it upon itself to ensure that it is fully implemented and enforced under my leadership and the custodianship of the MMC for health Sakkie du Plooy,” Msimanga said.
The policy dictated that “those who choose to smoke may not do so within 5m of the doorways, windows and building, through which tobacco smoke may readily enter the building”, he said.
Smoking, Msimanga said, was not only harmful to smokers but also put at risk the lives of those who were exposed to second-hand smoke.
“The fact is that smoking is not only harmful to smokers but also to others who are exposed to second-hand smoke, thus increasing their risk of lung cancer, heart diseases and many other illnesses.”
It was the City’s responsibility to protect non-smokers from inhaling secondary smoke and to ensure that its facilities are safe and healthy for all, he said.
“In terms of the constitution everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to his or her health or well-being,” he said.
The prohibition of smoking in the City’s facilities was informed by concerns for the health and safety of both our employees and the public, he said.
“The City’s revised smoking policy dictates that those who choose to smoke may not do so within 5m of doorways, windows and building.
"Smokers are also required to dispose of the remains of cigarettes in proper containers in order to keep a neat and clean environment for all employees, visiting partners and customers,” Msimanga said.
Designated smoking areas within City buildings had been abolished and there were notices that informed people that they were entering a smoke-free facility.
Before the implementation of the policy, the City would first get all group heads to sign a declaration obliging them to ensure all their subordinates understood the policy.
“The responsibility to ensure understanding of the policy among employees is entrusted to line managers and supervisors, and compliance is required from all employees, clients and persons visiting the City of Tshwane, without exception,” Msimanga said.
He said the City would dovetail a programme to assist those who wanted to quit the smoking habit.
“While it is our wish that all smokers desist from this activity for the sake of their health and well-being, we do not judge any smoker and understand that it is an addictive habit.
“However, it remains our responsibility to protect non-smokers from inhaling secondary smoke and to ensure that our facilities are safe and healthy for all.”
Msimanga said South Africa was confronted with a new trend of e-cigarettes or water pipes, commonly known as hubbly-bubbly or hookah.
“World health experts have long warned that smoking water pipes can be more harmful than cigarettes.”
The National Council Against Smoking applauded Msimanga for the approach of assisting people who wanted to desist from smoking.
National programme manager Jane Simmonds said: “I think we sometimes tend to forget that there are smokers who have an addiction to cigarette smoking and we would like to offer our support as the national council to the anti-smoking programme you will be running.”
Du Plooy said: “There is a lot that is said about illicit drugs and the mayor rightfully said there is also the case of smoking. If you look at the stats, many more people are killed by substances like alcohol and smoking.”
He said the City emphasised the approach to assist smokers rather than penalise them.
Msimanga said the policy would also apply to the use of company vehicles because the City strongly discouraged second-hand smoke.
The smoking policy would be enforced by the City’s environmental practitioners who have the right to issue fines.
Disciplinary action would be instituted against any employee found to be transgressing the policy within the City premises.