Tough new legislation aimed at tightening up the sale, advertising, sponsorship and promotion of tobacco products has now come into effect. President Zuma has proclaimed the commencement of the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act in the Government Gazette. The Act commenced on the 21 August 2009.
The legislation will tighten up the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products. Restrictions are now placed on the use of cigarette vending machines and where they may be located.
The Act intends for vending machines to be placed in locations out of the reach of under-aged would-be smokers. Vending machines selling tobacco products may not sell any other items.
The legislation enables South Africa to comply with World Health Organisation framework conventions on tobacco control.
The Act also introduces restrictions on advertising, sponsorship and the promotion of tobacco products. Duty-free and tax-free sales are prohibited. New definitions on advertising, importers and promotions, amongst others, are provided.
The age limit for the purchase of tobacco products is increased to 18. People under 18 may also now not sell tobacco products. Sweets that look like cigarettes may no longer be sold.
Stiffer penalties have been imposed for those caught selling cigarettes to under-aged consumers.
The Act prohibits the sale of tobacco products in health and education institutions. Pharmacies are included within the realm of health institutions.
Tobacco companies are now unable to engage in advertising, promotion and sponsorship unless it is done anonymously.
For the first time, importers of tobacco products are subject to the same standards applicable to local manufacturers.
The Act also sets out conditions under which retailers and importers are to either sell or bring tobacco products into the country. All products have to carry a warning of the dangers of smoking on the packaging.
The legislation prescribes how tobacco products are to be packaged and labelled. No false or misleading information may be displayed on packaging.
Retailers will have to display clearly visible signs in their shops containing the prescribed information about the products.
The Act also prohibits the free distribution of tobacco products.