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Madlala-Routledge: Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill (29/03/2007)

29th March 2007


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Date: 29/03/2007

Source: Department of Health


Title: Madlala-Routledge: Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill



Speech delivered by the Deputy Minister on behalf of the Minister of Health, Mrs N Madlala-Routledge, at the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill, National Assembly

Madam Speaker
Honourable members
Honourable members of the Portfolio Committee
Ladies and gentlemen

The Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill seeks to further deepen this government's commitment to protect our people from the effects of tobacco smoke. I wish to acknowledge the leadership role our government has played which goes back to the tenure of the former Minister of Health, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma who drove the original legislation through parliament. Now we take our place among the forerunners in limiting the public consumption of cigarettes. This has led to a drastic reduction in the numbers of people smoking, of the numbers of young people taking up smoking and, of the innocent passive smokers being adversely affected.

As Dr Dlamini Zuma often reminds us cigarette smoking is often the entry point for the abuse of other recreational drugs, for example, dagga, heroin and tik to name a few.

The Bill which we are proposing today, seeks to improve the operation of the Tobacco Products Control Act and also seeks to deal with new practices designed to circumvent the provisions of the Act. The Act is also being amended to bring it into compliance with the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which South Africa has ratified. The Bill further proposes a number of amendments to the Act, which are designed to promote health and prevent diseases. The main provisions of the Bill are to:

* amend the current Act so as to strengthen the sections which prohibit advertising, promotion and sponsorship
* remove misleading package descriptors like "light" and "mild"
* control the ingredients in and emissions from tobacco products
* increase penalties for breaking the law.

The Bill comes on the back of a widespread consultation process. Over 2 000 submissions on the Bill were received from individual members of the public, the tobacco industry, its associates and health organisations.

The majority supported the proposed amendments to the Bill. However, some submissions mainly from the tobacco and associated industries made alternate proposals that were not necessarily in line with the objectives of the Bill. The Bill has therefore been amended, taking into consideration the comments received.

The clause-by -clause analysis of the Bill reflects the following:

* Clause one and two amends the preamble in order to also insert a reference to the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and adds new definition to close loopholes in the current legislation.

* Clause three provides for the Minister to restrict or prohibit smoking in certain outdoor places such as schools and sports stadiums. It protects the rights of employees and prevents intimidation. It protects children by prohibiting the entry of anyone less than 18 years into a designated smoking area.

* Clause four prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship of any kind by the tobacco industry except under conditions of anonymity. It prohibits the sale of tobacco products in health and education institutions, it restricts the display thereof and empowers the Minister to regulate the format of information on the packaging which could include pictorial information and package inserts and quantities a package may contain. Misleading and deceptive labelling that creates a false impression about the safety of tobacco products are prohibited.

* Clause five seeks to empower the Minister to regulate the contents of tobacco products and their emissions to meet health and safety standards, to prescribe test methods for chemical analysis and to require manufacturers, importers and retailers to provide information.

* Clause six seeks to increase the age for the legal sale of tobacco products to a child from 16 to 18 years and brings the legislation in line with the Constitution, the WHO's Framework Convention of Tobacco Control.

* Clause seven restricts free distribution of tobacco products by manufacturers, importers and their agents.

* Clause eight seeks to restrict the sale of tobacco products through vending machines and the placement of such machines.

Madam Speaker, as key policy makers we have an obligation to prohibit the misleading terms related to labelling on tobacco packaging such as low tar, chocolate flavour, fruity flavour and any other flavourant that entices our communities to start smoking or discourage those who want to quit.

It is distressing to report that worldwide studies reveal that there is an estimated 1,3 billion smokers in the world. Many of these people will live long enough to cause harm to themselves and others and to become a burden on their national public health services. This government will play their part in supporting the international frameworks on tobacco control and in providing leadership with regard to public policy.

South Africa has been successful in enforcing the Tobacco Control Product Legislation and this has contributed immensely to the reduction of smoking prevalence among youth and adults. The 2002 Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) showed that the smoking prevalence among adults decreased from 23,0% in 1999 to 18,3% in 2002. The 2004 South African Demographic Health survey recorded 31% of males and 11% of women are smokers.

While we make progress in reducing the level of tobacco use, some in the tobacco industry have found loopholes in the Act. We want to tighten this Act and close these loopholes.

Government will take the lead in empowering communities with knowledge that will enable them to make informed decisions about their health and to raise general awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco products (pipes, snuff, cigars, etc).

However, those who consume tobacco are not the only ones exposed to its negative effects. Millions of people including one half of the world's children are exposed to second hand tobacco smoke, known also as passive smoking. There is conclusive evidence linking passive smoking to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases in adults and respiratory diseases, ear infection and sudden infant death syndrome in children. Passive smoking is a health problem that requires active involvement of the society.

Tobacco consumption has a major negative impact on the Health Care System including the depletion of scarce resources available to improve the health of our people. According to the Medical Research Council (MRC), the cost of maintaining the tobacco survivors in terms of healthcare cost and disability grants is about R2 billion per year. Therefore, a logical response is to keep our focus on prevention.

Again, Madam Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the leadership of Dr Dlamini Zuma in taking the bull by the horns on this issue.

I would also like to conclude by thanking the acting Minister of Health, Mr Jeff Radebe, for the leadership he has provided for the Department in the absence of our Minister. I would also like to thank the Health Portfolio Committee, particularly the Chairperson, James Ngculu for his guidance in ensuring that this Bill is finalised and presented to this House.

The African National Congress (ANC) fully supports this Bill and we hope that this House will also unanimously support it, because it would be the right thing to do.

I thank you!

Issued by: Department of Health
29 March 2007



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