July 22, 2010 - Many Namibians are baffled by the Tobacco Products Control Act that was passed by Parliament in April.
According to a 2008 World Health Organization survey Namibia was the leader in Southern Africa with a startling 36 percent of men smoking - 29 percent on a daily basis. (Smoking in Africa, VOAnews.com, 11/302009)Although Namibia has officially created a law that severely restricts smoking and in future will forbid the advertising of tobacco products in any and all ways, it will take time before the law will become operational. According to Windhoek ( (pronounced /ˈvɪnt.hʊk/, sometimes in German: Windhuk) is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Namibia) lawyer Pieter de Beer, a number of steps have to be taken in order for the law to be enforced. De Beer says the implementation of the Tobacco Products Control Act will “require a lot of planning” which will delay the implementation of the law.
“The law cannot be applied or implemented before the regulations have been drafted and published. Once the regulations are published, the public will be given a window of three months in which they can provide feedback and give their input into the regulations,” De Beer says.
The regulations are necessary to define stipulations contained in the Act, such as the exact distance smokers should stand away from doorways and windows while smoking in an open area. The stipulation that tobacco companies cannot sponsor events or display their products in advertisements needs to clarify how contracts will be phased out.
Another part that the law does not define clearly is an “outdoor public place”.
The regulations will have to specify which particular areas can be considered as such, and when and how this law applies.
The act itself states that once the regulations have been hashed out, a draft of the regulations will be made public and the public allowed to comment for three months.
Any person or business is then entitled to give feedback or input regarding the regulations to the Ministry of Health and Social Services. Following the three-month window, regulators will then take note of public opinion and where possible, amend the regulations.
De Beer says the impact of the smoking restrictions will be most severe on owners of social hot spots, such as restaurants or clubs, which according to the act, will become completely smoke-free zones. Even partially enclosed spaces, with just one wall or a roof overhead, are targeted by the law and will become smoke free.
For this reason, the three-month feedback period will possibly elicit a great deal of public opinion, and the revision of the regulations could extend the time before the law becomes enforceable.
Laws are rarely implemented in one go, and according to De Beer, the Tobacco Act will be implemented one part at a time. According to the Act, the Ministry also has to establish the Tobacco Products Control Committee. In addition, smoking inspectors, who will monitor and enforce the law, need to be selected and trained.
Reference: Smokers can relax for now by: JANA-MARI SMITH, Namibian.com.na, 7/20/2010.
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