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Strong support for Tobacco Control Bill in first public hearings

Publish Date:

August 22, 2023

In the first public hearings on the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill (B33-2022) conducted by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health in the North West Province reflected widespread support for the proposed new tobacco control legislation. The three hearings held in Klerksdorp, Rustenberg and Mahikeng, aimed at ensuring public participation in the legislative process as mandated by Section 59 (1) of the Constitution.

“We are pleased that the public consultation process has started and we look forward to being part of further discussions as these important hearings take place across the country,” says Dr Sharon Nyatsanza of the National Council Against Smoking, who spoke at the third hearing. “This is a vital opportunity for residents to air their views and also learn more about the Bill and what it means for public health in their communities. It was heartening to see strong support coming through.” 

Supporters of the Bill underscored the financial strain that smoking-related illnesses put on the healthcare system. They pointed out that tax revenues from the tobacco industry (R12 billion) are outweighed by the R42 billion spent by the Department of Health on treating tobacco-induced illnesses, on premature deaths and lost productivity, arguing that the provisions of the bill will reduce the burden on the healthcare system.

Residents showed strong support for smoke-free zones, a key proposal within the bill. Supporters believe this will protect non-smokers from the dangers of second-hand smoke inhalation. Many attendees clarified that the Bill aims to reduce tobacco consumption and protect children and young adults, not ban it outright as is misconceived by some of those opposing the bill.

The Bill further includes clauses that empower the Minister to regulate the manufacturing, testing, packaging, and labelling of tobacco products and electronic delivery systems. A common thread among the attendees in Klerksdorp was the need for the Bill to be more specific. Supporters of the Bill emphasised the need for stricter penalties against non-compliance, arguing that only severe sanctions could guarantee adherence to the proposed regulations. They mentioned that the proposals made regarding clause 16 of the Bill, which deals with penalties, were inadequate.

The proposed regulation of electronic delivery systems also received strong backing. Residents expressed concern over the targeting of youth by marketers of electronic cigarettes, also called vapes, exposing them to harmful substances. Supporters argue that the bill addresses a regulatory loophole, providing a framework for marketing, sales, testing standards, and research on these products.  Many young people criticised producers of tobacco and electronic delivery systems, saying that these industries prioritise their profits over the wellbeing of people, especially that of young people.

Standardised packaging for tobacco and non-tobacco-based products, another provision of the bill, was also favoured. Supporters argue that plain packaging will prevent producers from attracting young people with colourful packages and will help reduce consumption. Concerns were raised about children’s exposure to tobacco products, with supporters arguing that the bill’s passage would guarantee their protection.

The committee expressed appreciation for the interest and contributions made by the participants.

The deadline for written submissions to Parliament is 4 September 2023 and people and organisations are encouraged to submit their views.

Submissions can be emailed to or made online at

Information from the Portfolio Committee on Health indicates that the next public consultations on
the Bill will be held in Limpopo and Mpumalanga with dates and venues to be confirmed.


Prof. Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Director of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) and the Head of the
School of Health Systems and Public Health at the University of Pretoria
Sharon Nyatsanza (PhD), Deputy Director, National Council Against Smoking (NCAS)
Dr Catherine Egbe, Specialist Scientist: Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit, South African
Medical Research Council
Sanele Zulu, Convenor: South African Tobacco Free Youth Forum
Zanele Mthembu, Public Health Policy and Development Consultant
Lorraine Govender, National Manager, Health Promotion, CANSA

Tamaryn Brown

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