Cape Town – The Department of Health’s proposed changes to tobacco laws could see smokers face jail time for smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes indoors and failing to adhere to other prohibited smoking legislation.
Cabinet gave its approval earlier this year to amendments to the Tobacco Products Control Bill in Parliament that may prohibit all smoking indoors.
The proposed legislation calls for a total ban on smoking in all indoor and select outdoor spaces, the elimination of vending machine sales of tobacco products, and more focus on warning labels on cigarette boxes.
Smokers could face a fine, or three months jail time for breaching the new proposed tobacco laws, or six months in jail time for smoking or in the presence of a child or in the workplace.
Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, the department’s deputy director of health promotion, Lorato Mahura, said that over time there had been innovation in tobacco products, and the old law only covered traditional tobacco products, and did not include vaping products and e-cigarettes.
"We are also introducing some laws that will protect the non-smokers and vulnerable people, like children from the smokers," she said.
Mahura emphasised there will be more strict fines for those who don't comply.
"Those who are involved in smoking activities in the presence of children will receive six months imprisonment or a fine. But I don't want people to only focus on the penalties that come because each and every case has its own merit,“ she said.
She also highlighted that they are looking at making stricter restrictions in places like work places, in schools and private places because the current law doesn't cover those places.
Mahura further highlighted that the tobacco industry is pushing back on regulations on vaping and electronic delivery systems.
She said another focus will be on health warning messages on packaging.