Upgrade needed: South African tobacco control policy and the WHO-framework convention on tobacco control
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University of California San Francisco, Canter for Tobacco Control Research and Education, United States of America
University of California San Francisco, United States of America
University of California San Francisco, Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, School of Nursing, United States of America
University of California San Francisco, Department of Medicine (Cardiology), Cardiovascular Research Institute, Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, United States of America
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A13
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Tobacco control policy in South Africa was one of the strongest in the African continent before the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) entry into force in 2005. South Africa ratified the FCTC in 2005 and the treaty came into force same year. However, with many African governments keying into implementation of the FCTC, South African tobacco control laws are lagging behind with regards to compliance with FCTC requirements.

We reviewed South Africa's current tobacco control laws with the aim of identifying key areas including smoke-free public places, packing and labelling and tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, which are in need of additional regulations or amendments to make the tobacco laws more FCTC-compliant.

Under smoke-free regulations, there is need to have hospitals and patients' rooms 100% smoke-free and smoke-free work place policies should be effectively implemented. The proportion of tobacco packages with health warning labels (HWL) need to be upgraded from 20% to at least 30%, although the evidence now supports much larger warnings and these must be considered. HWL should be in English and the predominant languages of South Africa to allow for a better understanding of these warnings by the people. On tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, the South African law needs to be tightened around international and cross border advertisement of tobacco products, allowance of charitable financial contributions and points-of-sale advertising.

There is evidence supporting strengthening the existing legislation and to make the policy more aligned with the FCTC standard regulations. However, if tobacco industry opposition at the national level remains strong, the South African tobacco law allows for provinces to make stronger laws than the national law. This provision of the law can be exploited by tobacco control advocates to sensitize provincial governments to make tobacco control laws at the provincial level more FCTC-compliant.

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