Education Key To Stubbing Out Smoking Violations

With more than seven million tobacco-related deaths around the world every year, the City is committed to balancing the rights of smokers and non-smokers. Read more below:

The City of Cape Town’s Environmental Health Department will put education and awareness in the spotlight to mark World No Tobacco Day today, 31 May 2017.

Every year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its partners use the day to highlight the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use and to advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

Tobacco is credited with more than seven million deaths a year. The WHO predicts that this figure could rise to more than eight million by 2030 unless action is taken.

In South Africa, City Health is one of a number of agencies responsible for monitoring compliance with the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act, but also raising awareness about the health and environmental risks associated with smoking.

This week, City environmental health practitioners will host information sessions on the effects of smoking on health, but also highlight the do’s and don’ts of the legislation, particularly as it relates to entertainment establishments.

A lot of emphasis is placed on smoking in bars, restaurants and the workplace, and rightly so, but the legislation is so much broader than that. I wonder how many people know that it’s also illegal to smoke in a car carrying children younger than 12. This is a transgression that I have asked our traffic officers to be vigilant in enforcing as part of their routine operations. It is also illegal to sell cigarettes to children under the age of 18, yet you’ll find shops doing just that and even selling loose cigarettes to children and others and that too is against the law,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.

Some of the key complaints received from the public include:
• ventilation issues, doors to smoking areas left open, etc.
• smoking in doorways/alleys/restaurants
• smoking outside designated areas
• outdoor smoking affecting neighbours within residential areas
• smoking in offices/workplaces

In line with the City’s Organisational Development and Transformation Plan, City Health conducts a number of interventions aimed at building a safer city for all. Of the 12 723 food premises inspected between July 2016 and March this year, 217 were found to be non-compliant in terms of the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act. The Environmental Health Department issued fines totalling R47 600 and one summons to appear in court.

Staff have also hosted 141 education and awareness interventions at tertiary institutions, community outreaches, clinics, food premises, shopping malls, schools, and pubs etc. Generally, smoking blitzes at entertainment establishments uncover the highest level of non-compliance.

‘South Africa’s tobacco legislation is not new. It is therefore disconcerting that compliance continues to be a challenge. I encourage the public to report violations when they occur because we simply do not have the resources to proactively police this all of the time.

‘However, enforcement of smoking is but one aspect. We also need to start talking more seriously about the impact of smoking on the health of smokers as well as those around them. While the number of people who smoke has dropped, it remains a concern, particularly in the Western Cape. Smoking, like other bad lifestyle choices, adds to the already heavy health burden that we’re faced with and frankly, it doesn’t have to be that way,’ added Alderman Smith.

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