Parliament, Tuesday, 23 January 2024 – The Portfolio Committee on Health will from Friday, 26 January, to Sunday, 28 January 2024, resume public hearings on the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill (B33-2022) in the Eastern Cape. The hearings come after the December holiday recess and follow on from the public participation processes the committee has conducted on the Bill in North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Free State and Gauteng.
The hearings form part of Parliament’s constitutionally mandated public participation process to consult citizens in the law-making process. “The committee has been pleased with the quality of submissions received thus far and is confident that those submissions substantially contribute to the strengthening of this Bill. The committee is hopeful that the people of the Eastern Cape will also contribute meaningfully to this process,” said Dr Kenneth Jacobs, the Chairperson of the committee.
The committee reiterates its commitment to create a conducive platform for constructive inputs on the Bill, irrespective of the views held. This is demonstrated in the committee’s decision to provide an opportunity for both written and oral submissions, which have equal value in the committee’s eyes.
The Bill seeks to strengthen public health protection measures, align South African tobacco control law with the World Health Organisation Framework Convention, and repeal the Tobacco Control Act, 1993 (Act No. 83 of 1993).
The proposed legislative and policy changes seek to introduce the following:
(a) indoor public places and certain outdoor areas will be designated 100 per cent smoke-free;
(b) a ban on the sale of cigarettes through vending machines;
(c) plain packaging with graphic health warnings and pictorials;
(d) a ban on display at point of sale; and
(e) the regulation and control of electronic nicotine delivery systems and non-nicotine delivery systems.
In Gauteng, the Bill received mixed reviews, with some participants concerned that in its current form the Bill will have a devastating impact on the economy in their area, with unintended job losses. Other participants in the hearings called for the Bill to be returned to the National Economic Development and Labour Council for further discussion and deliberation. Others argued that there should be different mechanisms for regulating electronic delivery systems and tobacco products to highlight their differences. They also criticised what, in their view, was the Bill’s silence on harm-reduction strategies and said it does not offer smokers alternatives to combustible cigarettes, which they argue pose more serious health risks.
Those supporting the Bill argued that the regulation of tobacco products will protect non-smokers against exposure to second-hand smoke. They argued that in many instances smokers do not respect the right of non-smokers to live in a smoke-free environment. They welcomed the designation of smoke-free zones and said plain packaging and the ban on display at the point of sale will discourage compulsive consumption and also discourage younger people from taking up the habit.
Supporters of the Bill also argued that the regulation of the tobacco industry is necessary to alleviate the burden of disease and the cost to the Department of Health, which spent some R40 billion every year on treating patients with ailments induced by consumption of tobacco products.
“We encourage the people of the Eastern Cape to come out in their numbers to make inputs on the Bill and engender meaningful public participation,” Dr Jacobs emphasised.
The details of the public hearings in the Eastern Cape are as follows:
Friday, 26 January 2024
Butterworth Town Hall
10:00 – 15:00
Saturday, 27 January 2024
Thobi Kula Indoor Sports Complex – Main Hall
10:00 – 15:00
Sunday,28 January 2024
East London City Hall
10:00 – 15:00
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HEALTH, DR KENNETH JACOBS
For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Malatswa Molepo (Mr)
Parliamentary Communication Services
Tel: 021 403 8438
Cell: 081 512 7920