Foundation fired up by 'racist' proposed tobacco bill
It means there will be nowhere in most poor black areas where smoking will be lawful, says advocacy group
Advocacy group the Free Market Foundation believes government’s new proposed tobacco bill is racist and anti-transformative.
The cabinet announced last month that it had approved the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, the government’s first significant reforms to tobacco control legislation in a decade.
If the bill is passed in parliament it will bring a ban to all public smoking, including already designated areas found in restaurants and outdoor smoking.
Other proposals in the bill are prohibiting the sale of cigarettes in vending machines, banning displays of cigarettes by retailers and bringing e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery devices into the regulatory fold for the first time.“The only place where smokers will be able to smoke lawfully will be in private homes and private cars,” the executive director of the foundation, Leon Louw, told Times Select.
“This [bill] is anti-transformative and racist because under this proposed law there will be nowhere in most poor black areas where smoking will be lawful.
“Under this bill it will be illegal to smoke in any high-density areas, like most townships, [and] you may not smoke on public property and these are areas where the state owns most of the land.”
Louw said that while further clarity was required on the extent of the ban, as it stood the proposal was “insane” and limited the rights of smokers.
“A farmer who is by himself and walks into his barn is not allowed to smoke there because that’s a workplace. A fisherman out at sea in a boat is in a public place so he can't smoke there,” said Louw, whose organisation is funded by both the tobacco industry and companies with an anti-tobacco stance, including medical aid administrator Discovery Health.But the Tobacco, Alcohol and Gambling Advisory Advocacy and Action Group (TAG) executive director Peter Ucko was “delighted” by the new bill. He said it was not an attack on smokers but rather an attack on smoking.
“All these measures are part of a package that will reduce public smoking and reduce children taking up smoking,” Ucko said.
“This bill is a public health measure. It has got nothing to do with an attack on smokers. It’s to encourage smokers to quit smoking and those who do not smoke never to start.
“It is also to protect both smokers and non-smokers from tobacco smoke pollution.”
After the government’s announcement, Business Day reported that the Health Department expected pushback from the tobacco industry.Lorato Mahura, of the department’s tobacco control unit, said the government’s mandate was to “protect public health”.
“Their mandate is to protect profits. We are going to be tampering with their profit-making processes. Of course they are going to fight back‚” Mahura said.
But Louw said his foundation’s motives were to protect the rights of smokers, which he believed the bill would infringe on.
“Our stance is based on constitutional rights, human freedom, right of association, property rights, the right to control your own body and human dignity,” he said.