Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Durban -The National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) has objected to the proposed Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill of 2018, saying it compromised personal freedom.

The SA Spaza and Tuckshop Association (Sasta), which represents spaza and tuckshop owners, also filed its objection and called the Bill “completely inappropriate” for its members.

Wednesday was the last day for public comment on the Bill.

On Thursday, Nafcoc said the Bill sought to compromise by “excessive” intervention in personal freedoms gained at enormous cost during the Struggle for democracy and protected by the Constitution.

Lawrence Mavundla, the federation’s president, said section 2 of the Bill made the freedom to smoke precarious, especially where it empowered the Health Minister to prescribe the distance from windows, ventilation or doors where people might not smoke.

“This effectively gives the minister the power to ban smoking outright, but will also mean that smoking will be banned in townships if the minister prescribes practically any distance.

“Townships are very dense, and smoking in one’s own backyard may be within hearing distance of a window, ventilation or door near which smoking may not occur,” Mavundla said.

He said they were “very concerned” about the provision in the same section that outlawed smoking in a private dwelling, if that dwelling was used for commercial purposes or domestic employment.

The Bill also sought to limit the display and accessibility of tobacco, a move which Mavundla said undermined the rights of citizens who, in a free society, were free to decide whether or not to smoke.

The Bill seemed to be in direct conflict with South Africa’s competition policy because it reduced the right of producers to compete and the right of consumers to choose, he said.

He said it could lead to an increase in tobacco smuggling.

Sasta called the Bill “completely inappropriate” for spaza and tuckshop owners.

“We should either be exempted from it entirely or it should be scrapped. We do not comment in detail because the proposed Bill is inherently flawed. The Bill’s provisions cannot be applied or enforced in spazas and tuckshops because they are too small and most of their owners are too poor and unsophisticated,” Rose Nkosi, Sasta president, said.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said objections that did not make sense, would not be considered.

“One of the claims made by those who object is that the Bill will open illicit cigarette trade, which is not true.

“The World Health Organisation had put measures in place to deal with illicit cigarette trading and out of the 40countries that participated in this, 36 have ratified the law,” Motsoaledi said yesterday.

“Unfortunately, we are one of the four that have not ratified and Parliament will deal with that issue when we open.

“What became a problem is that the taxman had stopped raiding these companies suspected of illicit trading, but that will be dealt with so there should not be a concern about that,” Motsoaledi said.

Daily News

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