Tuesday, 25 June, 2024
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Mixed reaction to new smoking, vaping Bill at public hearing

The public appears divided over the new Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill, with the first public hearings – in North West Province, hosted by the Portfolio Committee on Health – drawing both positive and negative sentiments.

Industry experts have slammed the proposed laws, which include a ban on cigarettes sales through vending machines, smoke-free indoor public places and certain outdoor areas, and plain packaging with health warnings and pictorials on cigarette boxes, warning they will fail to improving people’s health while increasing the illicit market – and could cost the country billions in tax revenue.

Other proposed changes include a total ban on display at point-of-sale and the regulation and control of electronic nicotine delivery systems and no-nicotine delivery systems, reports BusinessTech.

Critics said this could slash tax collection rates, that shrinking the tobacco industry will affect the overall fiscus.

Others said the Bill emphasised the strain on the healthcare system from smoking, and that tax collection from the tobacco industry was negligible compared with the R42bn the department spends on tobacco-related illnesses.

Packaging

There was agreement that standardised packaging could prevent producers from targeting young people, which should reduce consumption and further protect them from the harm of tobacco use.

However, some suggested that the Bill would affect economic activities, like the manufacturing of boxes and other packaging materials, and could lead to job losses in a country desperately needing more employment.

Many warned that standardised packaging could also promote the sale of illicit and substandard tobacco products that could harm consumers.

The Covid-19 lockdown was cited as an example of how over-regulation can lead to increased consumption of illicit tobacco products.

Vaping

In terms of positives for the Bill, the clauses on electronic delivery services were generally well received.

Participants said that vapes are targeting the youth and exposing them to unknown chemicals, and there was an overall belief that the Bill adequately deals with the regulatory loopholes for electronic delivery systems.

But there were mixed views over the proposed criminalisation found in the Bill, with supporters arguing that tougher punishments are necessary to deter non-compliance and ensure adherence.

On the other hand, some argued that the fine or imprisonment for those failing to comply with clause 4 (3) (c) – no tobacco product can be sold or imported unless it is in intact packaging – was far too harsh, and would negatively affect traders who sell loose, or single-stick cigarettes, and that criminalising them was unfair.

A number of participants said the Bill was not specific in several aspects, with an overwhelming call to clearly explain the scope of the Minister’s regulatory powers.

 

BusinessTech article – South Africans divided over new smoking and vaping laws (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

New deadline for comment on vape, smoking laws

 

Will proposed new tax policy curb popularity of vaping?

 

SA plans new e-cigarette and vaping rules

 

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