Republic of South Africa: The Parliament

Various groups of people from the Cape Winelands District and the City of Cape Town, including academics specialising in issues around health, healthcare consultants, workers and representatives from health and tobacco trading and farmers’ associations shared their support or rejection of the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill during public hearings conducted by the Portfolio Committee on Health in Paarl yesterday.

Some academics rejected the Bill. They based their stance on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and noted that the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, one of the leading authorities on ENDS worldwide, authorised the sale of about 23 e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn and snus products. They therefore argued that there is a moral obligation to promote ENDS as safer products for adult smokers.

Some participants rejected the Bill on the basis that the Department of Health had not embarked on wider consultations before developing the Bill. As a result, the Bill in its current form is devoid of scientific substance. They also called on the department to embark on in-depth research and consult as widely as possible. They said ignoring smokers on an issue about tobacco and smoking is a big mistake.

There were also objection to the Bill on economic grounds, as some participants feared that it would contribute to the closure of tobacco companies. The Bill would therefore impact negatively on revenue collection and lead to retrenchments and unemployment.

Other participants in the public hearings rejected the Bill on the grounds that it would have a negative impact on indigenous traditions, as tobacco is a major element in their traditional rituals.

Those who supported the Bill based their support largely on health grounds, citing available statistics on smoke-related deaths. They called for tobacco advertising to include information about the side effects of tobacco. They also argued that the government, as part of its fight against drugs, should ban smoking.

The committee Chairperson, Dr Kenneth Jacobs, welcomed the contributions to the Bill made by participants in the public hearings. He assured them that the committee will consider all their views before it compiles its report on the Bill, which will then be submitted to the National Assembly for its consideration.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.