Health Dept denies plans to criminalise smoking with new tobacco bill

health dept denies plans to criminalise smoking with new tobacco bill

JOHANNESBURG – The Department of Health has again denied plans to criminalise smoking, with the proposed amendments to tobacco regulations.

Earlier this year, cabinet tabled the Tobacco Control Bill to Parliament.

If promulgated, it will repeal the current Tobacco Products Act.

READ: Smokers who break proposed tobacco laws could face jail time, health dept

The Tobacco Control Bill, which is currently before parliament, remains a contentious issue for pro-smoking lobbyists.

Some big players in the tobacco industry have also not taken to the proposed changes to regulation.

This includes proposals for 100% smoke-free indoor and a limited number of outdoor areas, a ban on the sale of tobacco products at vending machines and a bigger emphasis on warning signage on cigarette packaging.

Government says smokers or businesses who break the proposed tobacco laws could face a hefty fine or jail time.

Opponents of the bill have described it as draconian.

But the Health Department’s Lorato Mahura denies this.

“We cannot as the health sector support the tobacco industry to achieve their objectives because there is no meeting point in terms of what we are focusing on.”

The department says it expects parliament to kick off consultations at the provincial level next year.

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