Smoking is extremely harmful to you and the health risks of second-hand smoke are well-known by most.
Recently at the police station in Secunda a woman was asked by one of the officers to not smoke in the car where her young children were sitting and waiting with her. The woman was shocked when the officer told her that it is illegal to smoke with children in the car.
Children are extremely vulnerable to second-hand smoke as they have higher metabolic and respiratory rates than adults according to the UK Action on Smoking and Health organisation. According to CANSA, everyone has the right to a smoke-free environment. If someone breaks the law, here’s what you can do:
- Know your rights and speak to the owner, manager or supervisor.
- If they refuse to help or allow it to continue, you are within your rights to report this to the authorities.
- Take a photograph (make sure the venue is clearly identifiable) and send it to the local authority’s environmental health officer.
- The environmental health officer has the responsibility and authority to act under the Criminal Offences Act, and enforce penalties against the individual.
- If you are under 18, you are banned from buying cigarettes. This includes buying flavoured tobacco products used for hookah smoking. You are also not allowed to enter smoking areas if you are under 18.
- Smoking is banned in places like restaurants, offices and malls where there is no isolated, sealed off smoking room.
- No smoking in a car (even if it’s your own car) when one of the passengers is under 12 years. This is because children are negatively affected by tobacco smoking because their lungs are either still developing or too weak to handle that kind of environmental pollution.
- Smoking in partly closed public areas such as balconies, pavements and parking areas is not allowed.
- Smoking in locations used for commercial childcare activities, for schools or teaching/tutoring such as crèches is banned.
- Tobacco companies aren’t allowed to advertise, hold parties or use marketing to target the youth.
- Those sugar cigarettes in cute packaging which some of us have been exposed to have now been banned. Children learn by example and if they buy sweets and toys that look similar to cigarettes they are more likely to start smoking because of curiosity.
- No smoking is allowed in cinemas, on domestic flights in the country and all public transport.
- Some hotels have also banned smoking inside the building.
- Only up to 25% of a public place, such as a building or public transport can be allocated a smoking area. This area needs to be physically isolated from the rest of the interior. In other words, this smoking area needs to be enclosed and can only be used as a smoking area where the smoke can escape to the outside.
- Cigarettes are not be sold individually or ‘loose’.
- Some restaurants allow families with young children to sit in the smoking area of a restaurant because there might be adults in the family who want to smoke. By law, the manager of the restaurant must make sure that no one under 18 is present in that smoking section.
Punishment for disobeying these laws
- If the owner of a restaurant/pub/workplace has broken the cigarette laws, where smokers are smoking in a non-smoking area or there are under 18s present in the smoking area, then they will be fined up to R50 000. This is because they have put those non-smokers/second-hand smokers in harm through indoor pollution. Second-hand smokers are at risk for the same health problems that smokers are at risk for.
- This fine also applies to people selling cigarettes to people under 18.
- Any smoker found smoking in a non-smoking zone/area will be fined R500.
- If someone is caught selling a ‘loose’ cigarette they can be fined up to R100 000 – Ané Prinsloo