25 January 2007

Tobacco industry fight legislation

A high-level delegation from the country's largest cigarette manufacturer argues proposed changes to existing legislation are undemocratic.

Attempts by the tobacco industry to fight back against proposed changes to existing legislation continued yesterday when a high-level delegation from the country’s largest cigarette manufacturer maintained that these proposals don’t belong in a democracy.

Mr David Crow, managing director of British American Tobacco (BAT) in South Africa said to members of the portfolio committee about health that the proposed legislation – giving the minister of health the power to unilaterally enforce any aspect of the law without consulting parliament – would undermine legislative authority.

The proposed amendments to the Law on the Control of Tobacco Products (1999) is aimed at giving the minister of health greater control over the manufacture, sales, marketing and use of tobacco products.

On Tuesday Mr Francois van der Merwe of the Tobacco Institute of South Africa (Tisa) said that the time had arrived for the industry to start fighting against the onslaughts launched against it.

Mr James Ngculu (ANC), committee chairman, however, made it clear to Crow and Van der Merwe that parliament transfers executive powers to the executive authority.

Detriments to health
Crow, who is at the head of BAT’s delegation, which includes scientists and doctors, stated clearly that cigarettes are detrimental to one’s health and also agreed that the industry needs to be regulated.

Besides concerns about the extended powers of the minister, BAT also has doubts about amendments to the draft legislation, regulating the health impact of cigarettes, organised company activities and new tobacco products.

He said: “Let me put it clearly: Neither my company or I want children to smoke, but let’s take part in a dialogue about smoking based on facts and scientific proof – not on emotions.”

Mr Abednego Baker of the National Institute for Career Health said to the portfolio committee that smoking should be entirely banned in public places.

Based on an article by Pieter du Toit, Die Burger.


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