The contentious new bill on tobacco products championed by Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi has generated significant public interest as it carries with it drastic changes and strict new smoking laws.

Some hail it as a step in the right direction to protect public health whilst another section of the population describes it as an encroachment into people’s private lives.

Whatever end of the spectrum an individual may be, the cabinet approved the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill will have significant changes in the use of tobacco products in the country.

Following are some of the proposed changes:

A zero-tolerance policy on indoor smoking in public places (including the removal of designated smoking areas in restaurants);

A ban on outdoor smoking in public places;

When smoking outside, smokers must be at least 10 metres away from public entrances;

The removal of all signage on cigarette packaging aside from the brand name and warning stickers;

Cigarettes may no longer be publicly displayed by retailers.

The consequences:

If caught smoking in public you could be jailed for three (3) months. That sentence could be extended to a year if your employees are unwillingly exposed to smoking;

Those in tobacco products manufacturing business face up to five (5) years for failure to remove all signage on cigarette packaging aside from the brand name and warning stickers;

Failure to visibly place anti-smoking signs in public spaces and workplaces attracts a five (5) year sentence for the supervisor/manager;

A one-year maximum prison sentence for placing an automated vending machine containing tobacco products;

A five-year maximum prison term for tobacco companies sponsoring events with corporate branding, or advertising and promoting products;

A person can be jailed for up to five years for offering a financial or other incentives to a retailer to encourage the sale of the tobacco products.