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Updated 31 May 2011

10 smoking laws you must know

You might still be hazy on the latest anti-tobacco legislation, but it's been passed and is steadily being enforced. Get used to obeying the law - the penalties are no joke.

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You might still be hazy on the latest anti-tobacco legislation, but it's been passed and is steadily being enforced. Get used to obeying the law - the penalties are no joke:

  • You can't smoke in a car (yes, even your own) if one of the passengers is a child under 12. Why? Because: Environmental tobacco smoke adds to exhaust fumes and other pollutants that build up as "in-car" pollution, which in busy traffic is often worse than the air outside. Children are particularly vulnerable to the negative impact of tobacco smoke. 
  • The owner of a restaurant, pub, bar or workplace can be fined up to R50,000 if his/her premises breach the smoking laws. Why? Because: Environmental or second-hand tobacco smoke is the most serious form of indoor pollution. Second-hand smokers are at increased risk for the same health problems that hit smokers.
  • The fine for any smoker lighting up in a non-smoking zone is R500.
  • You can't smoke in partially enclosed public places e.g. covered patios, verandas, balconies, walkways, parking areas. Why? Because: Standing a few steps away from non-smokers doesn't protect them from your smoke, and standing in another room or even outside doesn't necessarily help either. Second-hand smoke has been shown to enter rooms even when smokers are standing outside. Toxins linger even after a smoker has stubbed out the cigarette and left the building.
  • You can't smoke on premises used for commercial childcare activities, or for schooling or tutoring – and that includes private homes e.g. those running crèches.
  • The tobacco industry isn't allowed to advertise of course, but they're also not allowed hold parties or use viral marketing* to target youth.
  • You can't buy or sell tobacco products if you're under 18.
  • Sweets and toys that look like tobacco products are banned. Those sugar cigarettes in cute just-like-the-grownups packaging that many of us played with as kids are a rapidly fading memory. Children learn by example.
  • No more than 25% of a public place (building or transport e.g. train) can be designated a smoking area. That area needs to be physically isolated from the rest of the interior i.e. it needs to be enclosed and the smoky air vented to the outside. (This law's been around for years now, but plenty of restaurants still flout it.) 
  • Coming soon: graphic health warnings like these on tobacco packaging, rules to keep smoking away from entrances to buildings, and restrictions on lighting up in sports stadiums, railway platforms, bus stops and outdoor dining areas.

*Viral marketing/advertising: using social networks, including those online, to promote and "spread the word" about a product.

- Olivia Rose-Innes, EnviroHealth Editor, Health24, updated October 2012

 
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