tobacco products

Tobacco Products Control Act

The Tobacco Products Control Act

Since the Introduction of the Tobacco Products control Act in 1993 a notable victory has been scored in the battle against tobacco in South Africa where smoking has been rated the second highest health concern, after HIV/AIDS. This act has been amended several time during the past decade and today South Africa has some of the strictest tobacco control measures ever adopted by the government of a developing country. It is estimated that cigarette consumption has fallen dramatically since the early 1990s while the percentage of adult smokers in the country has dropped from 32 to 26.5 percent.

The Tobacco Products Control Act of 1993

The South African Government passed the first Tobacco Products Control Act in 1993 and started implementing the act in 1995. The act regulated smoking in public areas and prohibited tobacco sales to people under the age of 16. Some aspects of tobacco advertising was also regulated for example labelling.

The Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act - 1999

The 1993 act was not considered to be comprehensive enough and the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act was passed in 1999. This act bans all advertising and promotion of tobacco products, including sponsorship and free distribution of tobacco products. The act also restricts smoking in public places which includes the workplace, restaurants and bars and public transport. The act also stipulates penalties for transgressors of the law, and specifies the maximum permissible levels of tar and nicotine. The regulations were implemented in 2001.

Further Amendments to the Act - 2007

The government proposed further amendments to the bill in 2007 which will seek to deal with new practices designed to circumvent the provisions of the Act. These amendments will also aim to bring the current law into compliance with the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This framework has been ratified by the South African government.

The former minister Madlala-Routledge was quoted:

The Bill further proposes a number of amendments to the Act, which are designed to promote health and prevent diseases. The main provisions of the Bill are to:

  • amend the current Act so as to strengthen the sections which prohibit advertising, promotion and sponsorship
  • remove misleading package descriptors like "light" and "mild"
  • control the ingredients in and emissions from tobacco products
  • increase penalties for breaking the law.

Current Tobacco Control Proposals

The South African government is currently looking at increasing the minimum legal age for smokers to 18.

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