Media release: New Tobacco Bill anti-poor and racist; impact assessment missing

22 May 2018
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FMF media release
22 May 2018

New Tobacco Bill anti-poor and racist; impact assessment missing
FMF asks to lead evidence to DPME on required (but missing) Socio Economic Impact Assessment

The FMF continues to be a strong voice frequently heard in the media against draconian anti-tobacco legislation and, specifically, the recently published Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, 2018 – the Tobacco Bill. We are repeatedly sought after by all media sectors to speak on the extreme and highly controversial policies proposed in the Bill and on the anti-smoking measures it will introduce which will affect mainly poor black people. We are known for our strong and sustained stance on anti-tobacco legislation, based on long-held principle and not vested interest, and are at the forefront of the pro-consumer, pro-small business, and pro-freedom campaign. Why then has the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) not invited the FMF to participate in discussions about the missing Socio Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA)? And, why has the Bill been published without the cabinet-mandated SEIA?

Is the DPME and the Department of Health afraid of the truth? That the Bill, in its current form, is racist, anti-poor and will have unintended consequences for the lives of citizens and the interests of small township business? And that the drafters failed to take due account of the real impact on people who consume tobacco products by choice?

Last week, the FMF wrote to the DPME formally requesting that it be allowed to lead oral evidence on an impact assessment for the proposed tobacco law.

The process being followed has failed on two counts:

  1. The Bill has been published without the cabinet-mandated, transparent and comprehensive SEIA: the Socio Economic Impact Assessment that should clearly demonstrate the full impact of the Bill, otherwise how is meaningful comment possible?
  2. Full consultation means that the SEIA must be available before consultations take place and that the FMF, as an interested party, must be allowed to present its evidence no matter how uncomfortable this may be for policy makers.

A SEIA is an extremely important part of the process of drafting new legislation and protects the interests of all affected parties. The FMF is the country’s leading expert on impact assessments, having researched and written on the issue since before the idea was popularised under President Mbeki in 2005, and reiterated and formalised under President Zuma in 2015.

The SEIA process is straightforward and comprehensive guidelines exist. When a decision is made by government to intervene in some aspect of society or the economy via policy, legislation or regulation:

  1. An initial SEIA is conducted to identify the problem the law intends to resolve and roughly evaluate the costs and benefits for different socio economic groups.
  2. After a public participation process, the initial SEIA is reviewed to incorporate valid proposals and objections contained in submissions received from public interested parties.
  3. A final SEIA is developed with a detailed evaluation of the consequences of the intervention.
  4. The draft intervention (like a draft bill) is then published with the final SEIA attached for further public comment.
  5. The draft intervention and then the final SEIA are revised based on public participation.

This is according to the DPME’s own guidelines, published in 2015.

FMF executive director, Leon Louw, said, “The Bill is absurd. Dressed up as a pro-health measure, the nicotine nazis will make smoking anywhere other than in rich people’s homes illegal. I challenge Minister Motsoaledi to show me anywhere in, say, Alexandra, where smoking will now be permitted. The high density living of the poorer, mainly black sectors of society make it impossible to move 10 metres away from someone else. Only affluent people have access to private space like this. This makes the Bill anti-poor, racist and anti-consumer choice.” The bill may potentially force even wealthy households to choose between their freedom, and continuing to employ a domestic worker – a combination banned by the bill.

The entire process for adopting the Tobacco Bill is flawed and must be re-started with all the relevant information made available to the public.

We will inform the media if and when we get an invitation to participate in DPME’s SEIA process on the Tobacco Bill.

Ends

Editorial notes: The main provisions of the Bill:

  1. Ban the display of tobacco products in all formal and informal retail and wholesale outlets;
  2. Ban the sale of tobacco products through vending machines;
  3. Introduce a complete ban on indoor smoking, including the removal of closed off designated smoking areas (25%) in which many businesses have invested;
  4. Ban smoking in homes where a domestic is employed;
  5. Severely restrict outdoor smoking areas;
  6. Introduce so-called plain or standardised packaging which requires the wholesale removal of all branding from tobacco products; and
  7. Regulate e-cigarettes and other new generation products in the same way as traditional products.
 

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