What changes the new proposed Tobacco Bill means for smokers and non-smokers

A woman smokes a cigarette. Image: ANA

A woman smokes a cigarette. Image: ANA

Published Oct 5, 2022


Durban - Smokers in South Africa will be further squeezed out of society as government forges ahead with a host of new laws aimed at stubbing out tobacco use.

Should the new proposed Tobacco Bill be passed, smokers will have to pay more consideration towards non-smokers as well as throw a spanner in the works for the booming e-cigarette and vaping industry.

Cabinet’s The Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill was given the green light for submission to Parliament last month.

If the new bill comes into play, smoking indoors, in a car or at home in the presence of a non-smoker will be illegal.

A summary of the bill, in accordance with Rule 271 of the National Assembly, was posted in the Government Gazette in September and says the new bill will:

  • Make smoking indoors in public places will be 100% illegal
  • Ban the sale of cigarettes through vending machines
  • Depict graphic health warnings on packaging
  • Ban on displays at point-of-sale

Regulate and control e-cigarettes and non-nicotine systems

E-Cigarettes will be regulated, and advertising and marketing e-Cigarettes will not be done as freely as it currently is, according to Dr Catherine Egbe, a Specialist scientist at The South African Medical Research Council.

Egbe was speaking during an interview on national radio.

She said there was never any evidence to justify that people who use e-cigarettes are a healthy alternative to normal cigarettes.

“The other thing the bill will aim to do is regulate electronic cigarettes, which is having a field day right now in South Africa. There are billboards being erected, in every corner you see advertisements, even kiosks showing ‘come and try before you buy’. That will not happen again once this bill passes,” Dr Egbe said.

Host of the talk show, Bongani Bingwa, asked her about the advertisements behind vaping and how companies implied that it was safer than smoking a normal cigarette.

Dr Egbe said: “That was just propaganda by the vaping or e-cigarette industry. There was never any evidence. Even South African studies that we have done haven’t shown that people who use e-cigarettes actually quit for good.

“What we found was that they were even more likely to relapse or start smoking again.”

On the issue of warnings, she said the previous health hazards on cigarette boxes did not persuade people to give up smoking. Hence, the new packaging will contain “pictorial graphics showing the effects”.

IOL reached out to the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, for his comments on the bill and what he thinks it would mean for the country.

We are awaiting a response from the minister.