Tobacco industry shoots down Tobacco Bill at Rustenburg hearing

Picture: Pixabay

Picture: Pixabay

Published Aug 18, 2023


The tobacco industry in Rustenburg shot down the Tobacco Bill at the public hearing on Friday.

Tobacco farmers told the portfolio committee on health that the bill would only encourage illicit trading in tobacco products and suppress legal traders.

Tobacco farmer Godfrey Molokwane said the government should first close down on the illicit trade of tobacco products smuggled into the country and flooding the market.

Molokwane said tobacco farming was labor-intensive, from harvesting the tobacco leaves to drying them.

"The bill will open up the illicit market and close down on legal traders. The bill in its totality takes the livelihoods of traders and turns them into criminals," he said.

The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Kenneth Jacobs, intervened when the lone supporters of the bill were heckled as they made their points on the bill.

Fanny Ncube said tobacco products were a danger to people's health and cost the government a lot of money to treat diseases caused by tobacco products.

A large number of people showed up at the Tobacco Bill public hearing in Rustenburg.

The Portfolio Committee on Health is holding public hearings in the North West this weekend.

The first public hearing was on Friday in Rustenburg; the second leg of the hearing would be on Saturday in Klerksdorp; and the last public hearing would be in Lonely Park, Mahikeng, on Sunday.

The North West is the first province to host the nationwide public hearings on the bill.

The Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill, known as the Tobacco Bill, seeks to strengthen public health protection measures, align the South African tobacco control law with the World Health Organization Framework Convention, and repeal the Tobacco Control Act, 1993 (Act No. 83 of 1993). The bill seeks to introduce indoor public places and certain outdoor areas that would be determined to be 100 percent smoke-free, ban the sale of cigarettes through vending machines, ban plain packaging with graphic health warnings and pictorials, ban display at point-of-sale, and regulate and control electronic nicotine delivery systems and no nicotine delivery systems.

"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," said Dr Kenneth Jacobs, the chairperson of the committee.

The committee has decided to conduct public hearings during the week and on weekends to afford stakeholders, organisations, and individuals enough opportunity to participate.

"In trying to ensure the existence of a favourable atmosphere for a meaningful public participation process, we decided to hold hearings at times and on days that will afford interested individuals and stakeholders a reasonable opportunity to participate. We are ready to listen," Dr Jacobs said in a statement.

The closing date for written submissions has been extended to September 4.