• April 17, 2024

Growers Worried About South African Tobacco Bill

 Growers Worried About South African Tobacco Bill
Photo: poco_bw

Small-scale tobacco growers in South Africa raised concerns about the impact of proposed legislation during public hearings in the Eastern Cape province.

To strengthen public health protection measures, lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban smoking in all indoor public places and certain outdoor areas; prohibit cigarettes sales in vending machines; require standardized tobacco packaging and ban the display of tobacco product at points of sale. The bill would also regulate electronic nicotine delivery systems and non-nicotine delivery systems.

During the Eastern Cape gathering, tobacco growers described the relative wealth that tobacco cultivation had afforded them in an area suffering from unemployment and poverty.

“When we were producing vegetables, me and my family were staying in a one-roomed mud house but immediately when we started producing tobacco leaf, I was able to build myself a beautiful six-roomed house, Nomfusi Kotsele, a member of the Katala cooperative in Butterworth, was quoted as saying in a report by South Africa’s Parliament. “I was also able to take my children to school so that they can have a better future than I had.”

Participants in the meeting also cautioned against the unintended consequences of overregulation. They pointed to South Africa’s thriving illicit cigarette trade, which exploded in the wake of a Covid-19 prohibition on tobacco sales and has remained above pre-pandemic levels long after the ban ended.

The hearings are part of a nationwide public participation process to garner citizens’ views on the bill. Similar consultations have already taken place in North West, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Free State and Gauteng.