Parliament, Thursday, 14 September 2023 – The Portfolio Committee on Health will this weekend, from Friday 15 September to Sunday 17 September 2023, hold public hearings on the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill (B33-2022) in Limpopo which is the second province the committee is visiting as part of a nationwide process to garner views from the public on the Bill.

The Bill seeks to strengthen public health protection measures and align the South African tobacco control law with World Health Organisation Framework Convention and to repeal the Tobacco Control Act, 1993 (Act No. 83 of 1993). The proposed legislative and policy changes seek to introduce the following:

  • Indoor public places and certain outdoor areas that will be determined to be 100 per cent smoke-free.
  • ban the sale of cigarettes through vending machines.
  • plain packaging with graphic health warnings and pictorials.
  • ban on display at point-of-sale;
  • and the regulation and control of electronic nicotine delivery systems and non-nicotine delivery systems.

Following a number of court judgements highlighting deficiencies with public participation in the law making process, Parliament and the legislative sector in general have committed to enhancing this important pillar in the legislation-making process and this process is a direct response to ensure enhanced public participation. “The hearings are in line with Chapter 59 (1) of South Africa’s Constitution, which compels the National Assembly to facilitate public involvement in the legislative process. Furthermore, the legislative sector adopted a Public Participation Model that places public consultation at the centre of how it does its business,” said Dr Kenneth Jacobs, the Chairperson of the committee.

The hearings will be held in three districts to ensure reasonable access for residents in provinces to make their inputs. The committee has decided to conduct public hearings during the week and on weekends to afford stakeholders, organisations, and individuals’ adequate opportunity to participate. “In trying to create an environment conducive for a meaningful public participation process, we decided to hold hearings at times and days which will afford interested individuals and stakeholders a reasonable opportunity to participate. We are ready to listen,” Dr Jacobs emphasised.

The committee successfully concluded hearings in North West Province in August and received mixed views on the Bill with those in support emphasising the view that the provisions of the Bill will lessen the burden on the healthcare system caused by the consumption of tobacco products. Also, there was support for smoke free zones because of the belief that it will empower and protect non-smokers from the possible dangers caused by second hand smoke inhalation.

Those against the Bill highlighted their concern with the possible impact on job opportunities within the industry. Furthermore, there was a view that the Bill will boost the already problematic illicit trade. Also, there was a view that overregulation through the Bill will reduce the industry’s contribution to the fiscus.

The committee invites all interested individuals and organisations to come and share their views with the committee.

Source: Parliament