The Department on Health hopes to present the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill to president Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet by the end of 2020.
A department spokesperson told BusinessDay that the bill requires a cabinet sign-off before it can be processed by parliament.
The bill is expected to further regulate the use, marketing and sales of e-cigarettes or vapes in South Africa, with these products currently operating in a ‘legislative vacuum’.
Government has also indicated that it plans to introduce further restrictions around the smoking of cigarettes in public places.
Deputy health minister Joe Phaahla said in May that government was in process of finalising the bill which will allow it to impose a 100% ban on smoking in public areas.
He said that the government is also moving to identify areas that need strengthening in terms of legislation, including the regulation of e-cigarettes and related products.
“We’re finalising the Tobacco Control Bill to close the gap to protect the public from harmful effects of tobacco use. We continue to identify areas that need strengthening in terms of legislation,” he said.
The current smoking law bans smoking in public places, but allows for designated smoking areas in places like bars, taverns and restaurants provided that they do not take up more than 25% of the venue.
“We want to change the 25% allowed smoking in public areas to 100% prohibition of smoking in public areas.”
The deputy minister noted that smoking among adults has reduced from 32% in 1992 to 18% in 2012, in South Africa. He said that more recent studies have shown that this number has since increased to more than 21%.
He said that tobacco kills around 20,000 people in South Africa annually.