SOUTH Africa’s going to be a very different place in two weeks’ time - for smokers. That’s when the Department of Health’s director-general Precious Matsoso hopes a new range of smoking regulations will have been published.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health held in Cape Town this week, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi lamented that South Africa has lagged behind in its fight against smoking, starting with the compromise as far back as 2005 to allow smoking in a quarter of public places.
The new regulations will make the ban on smoking in public places complete, along with a slew of other initiatives controlling e-cigarette use, tobacco points-of-sale and packaging.
There are many who will rail against this, complaining of government interference in their lives. The tobacco industry will accuse government of tampering with job creation. Motsoaledi, though, was having none of that this week: “Are we creating these jobs for corpses?” he asked.
It is a real question. According to former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, a billion people will die this century from smoking, despite the already widespread efforts to combat it. The tobacco industry has been working relentlessly to circumvent regulations and develop new generations of smokers.
Africa, in particular, has become a key market due to the lack of watertight rules.
Smoking kills, but before it does, it harms and creates a range of medical problems. It also harms the health of those exposed to it passively. No one is telling smokers they may not smoke - they can sate their lust for nicotine in their own private spaces. That’s not unfair, it’s eminently reasonable to smokers and non-smokers alike.
The Saturday Star