The proposed Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill should not be passed or it will hurt business in taverns, restaurants and retailers, leading to job losses, say traders.

A collective of national township associations, representing about 20000 restaurants, taverns and small business traders are up in arms over the draft tobacco control bill, which they believe is impossible to implement in the township environment.

The bill proposes a ban on smoking in public places.

It also proposes that people must leave smoking areas already available in restaurants and taverns, and smoke about 10m away from these spaces.

“The 10m ban is completely impractical. Can you imagine finding such a place in Alexandra or Khayelitsha? Even 2m is ridiculous, because you will be right in front of your neighbour’s door,” said Fanny Mokoena, president of the Gauteng Liquor Forum (GLF) and the National Tourism Hospitality Association (NTHA).

“In Alex, a smoker will need to walk outside the township to find a legal place to smoke a legal product.

“The new law will, without a doubt, put the lives of our patrons at risk,” she warned.

“Our customers could get raped, mugged or even killed walking to find a place where it is legal to smoke.

“Also, there are laws that say you cannot take your drink outside, so a customer will need to leave their drink behind, where it could be spiked with a drug,” Mokoena pointed out.

The last day for public comments on the bill is Wednesday.

@smashaba

The Star