By Patrick Cull and Shaun Gillham
SMOKERS face new restrictions that will ban the smoking of tobacco “in any public place” and prohibit the provision of food or refreshments and entertainment in a designated smoking area.
And, if the regulations are adopted, smoking will be prohibited even on beaches where public bathing is permitted unless you are 50 metres away from the closest person near the demarcated swimming area.
The new regulations, published by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in the Government Gazette, will affect all spheres of life if ratified. They will have a major impact on how restaurants and entertainment venues conduct their businesses.
There is also doubt as to exactly how the new Tobacco Products Control Act will be policed given smokers are seldom penalised and establishments do not adhere to existing legislation.
In terms of new regulations smoking will be banned in:
- Stadiums, arenas, sports facilities and playgrounds;
- Zoos and outdoor eating and drinking areas;
- Venues where outdoor events are taking place; and
- Covered walkways and covered parking areas.
And for teachers accustomed to nipping outside for a quick puff, the ban extends to the premises of schools and child care facilities.
DA Eastern Cape shadow health MEC John Cupido said when the current legislation was introduced police used to send in undercover officers to make sure the laws were being adhered to, “so that might be done in this case”. Restaurateur Paul van der Merwe, owner of Angelo’s in Port Elizabeth, labelled the proposed legislation as “draconian”. “As it is, when the first new smoking legislation came out [stipulating a specific smoking section] we got an architect in and spent money accommodating the laws. We have made further alterations at cost, and now there are new laws on the cards.”
Van der Merwe said the non-smoking lobby and laws were becoming “too controlling”. He believed new regulations would have a negative impact on restaurants, but importantly laws were increasingly restricting people’s rights to choose.
This is a shortened version of an article that first appeared in the print edition of Weekend Post on Saturday April 10, 2012.