Tobacco traders have cried out to the Presidency of Botswana to show them leniency regarding to the signing of the Tobacco Control Bill No.9 of 2021, which has already gone through parliament despite criticism and is said to have hard done the sector.
The Tobacco Control Bill was published in March 2021 and its objective is to repeal and re-enact the Control of Smoking Act (Cap. 65:04), as a way to make it correspond with the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of which Botswana is a party of.
Participants in the multi-million sector are against the Control Bill as its passing will negatively affect the socio-economy hence bringing the sector to a potential halt.
The Act is said to have been found short but not limited to several provisions such as addressing issues to do with point of sale as well as advertising and cross border advertising, packaging and labelling of tobacco products, and the issue of regulation of tobacco products.
Under the Bill, the following are some of the crucial aspects to be brought into effect as soon as it is signed by the president:
- The establishment of Tobacco Control Committee which shall provide oversight in the implementation of the provisions and put to action the powers discussed upon it;
- Provide protection to all workers and members of the public by completely prohibiting smoking in all indoor workplaces, all indoor and outdoor public places as well on all public transport where smoking would contradict its objectives;
- Monitor a range of health and tobacco related aspects which include the issuance of license health trends in relation to tobacco consumption and exposure;
- Restaurants will be required to declare smoke free zones;
- Prohibit advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry in order to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco especially among the youth;
- Provisions for criminal sanctions to individuals who contravene the Bill by selling or purchasing tobacco, or tobacco products from persons who do not hold a license issued in accordance with new Bill;
- If an individual is found guilty of an offence under this Bill, the court may impose a fine in addition to any other penalty, equal to the amount of monetary benefit gained by the offender, even if the maximum fine is imposed under another provision.
According to the head of Legal and External Affairs of the British American Tobacco (BAT) Botswana Mdu Lokotfwako, the proposed Tobacco Control Bill has gone through the Third Reading and that it still needs presidential approval for it to become law.