SMOKERS are set to have the number of places where they can light up freely curtailed even further, thanks to amended smoking laws.
Two new Acts, which amend the country’s tobacco control laws, are now in operation and according to the National Council Against Smoking, offer better protection for non- smokers.
“The Acts strengthen the existing law on smoking in public places; regulate the manufacture of tobacco products so as to make cigarettes less likely to start fires; and make them less appealing to children and less addictive,” said the council .
Smokers would no longer be able to smoke in “partially enclosed” public places, such as covered patios, verandas, balconies, walkways and parking areas, which could have serious implications for bars and restaurants.
Owners could now be fined a maximum of R50000 for breaking the smoking laws while the fine for the individual smoker is R500.
Benji Gane, operations manager of Kingco, the franchisor for Keg and McGinty’s, said the new laws had already affected their operations.
“Smoking on the patio at McGinty’s in Vincent used to be allowed because everything opened up,” he said. “But the new laws mean we have had to make it a no-smoking area now.”
Gane said they were willing to enforce the smoking law, but were concerned that other establishments were not doing the same.
“If our smoking customers can’t sit at the bar and smoke, they end up going somewhere else that allows them to,” he said. “But if everyone enforced the law as it should be that we would keep our customers.”
Arthur Shorten, owner of Highgate Hotel, said he had lost business as a result of having to enforce the smoking law.
“Most of my patrons are smokers, but since I’ve had to strictly enforce the law I’m down about 50 percent revenue on my gambling machines and about 25 percent down in my bar and restaurants,” he said.
Shorten said that under the new laws smoking was now also prohibited under a gazebo outside his pub, which smokers had used.
“I’m not sure what I have to do to comply with the new laws and have no idea whom to contact.”
A Saturday Dispatch team visited various pubs and restaurants around the city on Thursday and yesterday lunchtime and only in one case witnessed a patron smoking at a beachfront bar in an area where smoking was not permitted.
Many owners said they were not aware of the amended laws.
One man smoking on the pavement outside an establishment said he did not mind the inconvenience of having to smoke outside. “It’s become an anti-social habit and is getting tolerated less and less.”
Dillon Pearson, the manager at Raggies in Beacon Bay, said it was often difficult to police patrons.
“Sometimes they’ll just light up even though smoking is not allowed and we have to tell them to put their cigarettes out,” he said.
Pearson said he believed smokers and establishment owners were still uneducated about the rules and regulations regarding smoking. “I think government should spend more time educating pub owners and smokers on what they can and can’t do and how to comply with legislation.”
Buffalo City Municipality spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said the municipality would assist those needing help with the law. They could contact Environmental Health manager Kholekile Tapile on 0437052937 or 0437052974. - By ANDREW STONE, Senior Reporter
Children will be better protected
IN ADDITION to curtailing the places where people can smoke, the new smoking laws have also been formulated to further protect children from cigarette smoke.
Adults may no longer smoke in a vehicle in which a passenger under 12 years is present, while children under the age of 18 are also not allowed into designated smoking areas.
“The tobacco industry can no longer hold ‘parties’ or use viral marketing to target young people,” said the National Council Against Smoking.
“The sale of tobacco products to and by persons under the age of 18 years is prohibited.”
The council said further changes in the law would come into effect later in the year. These would include amongst others the use of picture-based health warnings and the introduction of cigarettes which self-extinguish, thereby reducing the risk of fires. “Cigarettes cause about five percent of all fires in South Africa,” said the council.
Smoking in certain areas would also be further reduced and would not be allowed near entrances to buildings, would be restricted in sports stadiums, railway platforms and at bus stops. “So smoking at football, cricket, rugby and other sports stadiums will be regulated,” said the council.
© Copyright: 2009/09/14 Dispatch