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The focus turns to tobacco control and associated health impacts this World Environmental Health Day. Still today many smokers and business owners have only a vague sense of the damage smoking can do to their own health and to the health of those around them, and as such are not always compliant with tobacco control legislation. The City hopes that the publicity generated as part of this initiative will help to change entrenched behaviours and improve environmental health in general. Read more below:

Smoking is one of the primary causes of preventable illness and death. Responsible for over 6 million deaths per year, and associated with a number of types of cancer including lung, throat and bladder, it is considered a major public health issue and as such has been made the focus of World Environmental Health Day 2016. As part of the day’s programme of activities, the City of Cape Town held an at the Athlone Stadium raising awareness about the issue, as well as other City Environmental Health functions.The City of Cape Town views smoking contraventions in an equally serious light, and performed 12 447 inspections of premises for compliance in the 2015/16 financial year – of which 12 361 premises were found to be in the clear. As a result of these inspections, eight warrants of arrest have been issued and one accused has been found guilty and paid the R2 000 admission of guilt fine. Most of the remaining 74 cases of non-compliance were new businesses where full compliance with the legislation has not yet been reached. As such, written notices to institute corrective measures have been served on the owners of such premises. Should they fail to comply, a fine will be issued.

‘Not only does smoking harm the smoker itself, placing pressure on an already overburdened health system, their actions can also affect the health of their families, especially children. Exposure to cigarette smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks and respiratory infections as well as an increase in the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Furthermore, studies show that the lungs of smokers’ children grow less than children who do not breathe second-hand smoke,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Health, Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli.

The Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act has a number of stipulations pertaining to children, including that:
no person may smoke in any motor vehicle when a child under the age of 12 years is present in that vehicle (maximum fine of R500)
no person may smoke any tobacco product in a private dwelling if that private dwelling is used for any commercial childcare activity, or for schooling or tutoring (maximum fine of R500 for the smoker and R50 000 for the owner of the crèche)
children under 18 years are not allowed in designated smoking areas (maximum fine of R50 000)
no person shall sell or supply any tobacco product to any person under the age of 18 years (maximum fine of R100 000)
no person may sell or supply any confectionary or toy that resembles or is intended to represent any tobacco product (maximum fine of R100 000)

Further to this, second-hand smoke can also affect the health of adults. According to the Centre for Disease Control, non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20 – 30%. Even brief exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke can damage our cells in such a way that sets the cancer process in motion.

‘As such, the City would like to again remind residents of their responsibilities as outlined in the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act. The Act prohibits any person from smoking tobacco products in an indoor, enclosed, or partially enclosed area that is open to the public, including a workplace or public conveyance. It also states that the owner, person in control of a public place, or employer in respect of a workplace shall ensure that no person smokes in that place or area. An employer, owner, licensee, lessee or person in control of a public place may designate a portion of a public place as a smoking area subject to certain requirements, however, those under the age of 18 should not be present,’ said Councillor Mamkeli.

The legislation also requires that dedicated smoking areas:
do not exceed 25% of the total floor area of the public place
are separated from the rest of the public place by a solid partition and an entrance door on which the sign ‘SMOKING AREA’ is displayed, written in black letters at least 2 cm in height and 1,5 cm in breadth, on a white background
have ventilation whereby that air from the smoking area is directly exhausted to the outside and is not recirculated to any other area within the public place

‘In many cases people underestimate the risks associated with second-hand smoke. We hope that the programme of activities and publicity generated with this day of awareness will galvanise residents towards ensuring that their habit does not infringe on the good health of non-smokers. Furthermore, any information on residents or establishments who are not abiding by the regulations listed above can be reported to the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089,’ said Councillor Mamkeli.

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