Draft law proposes that South Africans be jailed for up to 3 months for smoking in public

Business Insider SA
  • The draft Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill proposes three month prison sentence for smoking in public. 
  • Among the many new provisions proposed: dedicated smoking areas in restaurants will be removed.
  • South Africans have until August 9 to comment on the bill. 

South Africans may be jailed up for up to three months for smoking in public – and employers for up to a year if employees are unwillingly exposed to smoking, a draft Bill proposes.

This as South Africa celebrated #WorldNoTobaccoDay on Thursday where the goverment called on South Africans to stop smoking. 

"Choose health and say no to tobbaco," public service minister Ayanda Dlodlo tweeted. 

The draft Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill (Cotped) bans smoking in all enclosed public spaces and enclosed workplaces.

This means the removal of dedicated smoking areas in restaurants.

Smoking will also be banned in vehicles with passengers, and specifically children under the age of 18.

Manufacturers of cigarettes and electronic tobacco devices will be forced to remove all branding on package, with an exception to the company’s logo – or risk a five-year prison sentence.

The draft Bill says tobacco packaging must have a “uniform plain colour and texture”.

“Tobacco use is extremely injurious to health of smokers, non-smokers and other users of tobacco products,” the Bill reads.

“[Smoking] has caused widespread addiction in society.”

Other key provisions in the draft Bill include:

  • If appropriate signage banning smoking are not placed in public spaces and workplaces, the person in charge of the area can be jailed up to five years.

  • A one-year maximum prison sentence for for placing an automated vending machine containing tobacco products.

  • A five-year maximum prison term for tobacco companies sponsoring events with corporate branding, or advertising and promoting products.

  • A person can be jailed for up to five years for offering a financial or other incentive to a retailer to encourage the sale of the tobacco products.

Members of the public have until 9 August to comment on the draft legislation before it heads to the National Assembly for adoption. Comment should be sent to

* This article was originally published on 11 May 2018. It was updated on 31 May, World No Tobacco Day.

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