New Tobacco Legislation adopted by National Council of Provinces
14 September 2007
Draft legislation which will help in dramatically reducing the ability of cigarette companies to addict young people, as well as protecting them from attacks of asthma, wheezing, bronchitis and pneumonia was approved on Wednesday by the National Council of Provinces’ select committee on social services.
“The Bill will now go to the full NCOP for voting and debate. If approved, the Bill will go to the president to be signed by law. The National Assembly passed the Bill in March,” says Executive Director of the National Council Against Smoking, Yusuf Saloojee.
The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that young people don’t start smoking; to protect non-smokers from pollution caused by tobacco smoke, and to help smokers quit. The Bill will protect children in several ways.
“Firstly, it will make it more difficult for the cigarette companies to addict kids. The first ever puff a child takes on a cigarette can taste harsh, provoke coughing and nausea,” says Saloojee.
Saloojee explains that cigarette makers add chocolate, liquorice, honey, sugar, menthol and hundreds of other chemicals to tobacco to hide its unpleasant taste, and make the smoke “smoother” and easier to inhale. He adds that Menthol, for instance, numbs the throat, thus reducing coughing.
“Currently, tobacco manufacturers can add anything they like to tobacco products. Aside from tobacco leaves, up to 1 400 other chemicals may be added to tobacco products,” says Saloojee.
Saloojee adds that smoking remains a leading cause of premature, preventable death in South Africa.
“Tobacco kills 30 000 South Africans every year, three times more than motor accidents, and five million worldwide. Our efforts to reduce the death toll will be helped by the new legislation,” says Saloojee.