Slow burn on fags law

06 June 2016 - 09:09 By KATHARINE CHILD

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said in 2012 he would make sure cigarettes were sold in plain packaging to offset the glamour associated with smoking and reduce cancer.Four years later Motsoaledi was making the same promise on World No Tobacco Day, suggesting his department has made little progress in turning the plan into policy.Australia adopted plain packaging laws in 2012; Britain, New Zealand and France are introducing similar measures.Health Department spokesman Joe Maila said technical legislative issues had caused the delay.The department had initially thought that the measure to enforce plain packaging for cigarettes could have been passed by writing a draft regulation, allowing public comments and then having Motsoaledi sign it into law.But changing cigarette packaging required changing the Tobacco Control Act, a process that had to be undertaken by parliament, he said.The department wants to ban all cigarette smoking indoors, with changes to packaging that will show the dangers of smoking.Motsoaledi also supports a ban on alcohol advertising, saying it promotes and increases drinking.But the legislation to ban alcohol advertising, discussed by the cabinet last year has not seen the light of day.Maila referred queries on the proposed alcohol advertising ban to the Department of Social Development as it was in charge of an interministerial committee discussing the issue.Social Development Department spokesman Lumka Oliphant failed to respond to queries.Also stalled is a plan announced in 2014 to stop junk food advertising to children. The regulations, drafted in May 2014, propose a ban on advertising food high in salt, saturated fat and sugar during daytime television, and a ban on the sale of fizzy drinks in school tuck shops.Maila said the department was committed to fighting lifestyle diseases but did not want to rush legislation."Some initiatives are taking some time to finalise but this is preferable to rushing into important decisions and then having to retract them," Maila said.He said under Motsoaledi salt in food - including bread, snacks and margarine - had been reduced, with the salt reduction law coming into effect this month. More reductions would be introduced in 2019.The department has begun a process to legislate an increase in the size of warning labels on alcohol bottles and create a sugar tax on fizzy drinks and fruit juices.

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