Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill [B117D-98]: hearings

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20 October 1998
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


20 October 1998

Documents handed out:
Airport Advertising
Alexander Sinton High School
Anchor Outdoor Displays
Applied Fiscal Research Centre (AFReC)
Associated Printing
Association of Marketers
Banner, I.S.
British American Tobacco (South Africa)
Cape Town No Tobacco Forum
Cancer Association of South Africa
Clarion Printed Products
Clothing Bargaining Council Health Care Fund
Cooperative Tobacco Exchange
Corporation for Economic Research
Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA)
Durban Turf Club
Erasmus, Gerhard (Faculty of Law, University of Stellenbosh)
Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (FEDHASA)
Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU)
Free Market Foundation
Freedom of Commercial Speech Trust
Gretton, Keith (expert on environmental tobacco smoke)
Heart Foundation
High, S. Hugh (Depts. of Business Science & Economics, UCT)
Independent Newspapers Cape
International Hotel & Restaurant Association
Leach, Daniel (Dept. of Business Economics, University of Witwatersrand)
Lowveld Golden Leaf
National Council Against Smoking
National Health Committee: ANC
National Progressive Primary Health Care Network (NPPHCN)
Marks, Amy Seidel (Graduate School of Business, UCT)
Media Co-ordination
Medical Research Council
Mosime, S.M. (University of the North West)
Music Industry Development Initiative (MIDI)
Potgietersrus Tobacco Corporation
Print Media Association of South Africa
Reference Group for Health Promoting Schools in the W. Cape
Robertsons Food
Rothmans International
Swart, Dehran
Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa
Tobacco RSA
Tobacco Vending Machine Association
Ucko, Peter (Independent Councillor)
Woest, Dennis
Western Cape Department of Health
Worldwide Brands Incorporated

In this morning session, the committee heard arguments for and against the legislation. Besides arguments in support of the legislation because of health risks, the committee heard reasons for opposing the Bill - it would reduce the economic growth of the country and it was unconstitutional.

Alexander Sinton High School
This submission, entitled "How tobacco affects the youth - the youth’s perspective", was presented by three pupils, namely Alana Bolligello, Nicole Pamplin and Lizelle Barnes. They dealt with tobacco advertisement and the false message it portrayed to the youth. They highlighted the illusion that smoking and success, happiness or excitement were connected in these adverts.

Medical Research Council
Dr Mbewu, Executive Director of Research, presented the Medical Research Council’s submission. His organisation was in full support of the Bill as, according to their findings, it could save thousands of South Africans from premature deaths. He said that the Bill was in accordance with legislation from many other countries.

Cape Town No Tobacco Forum
Ms Rhenolda Davies said the Forum was in support of the Bill. The Cape Town No Tobacco Forum represented various local authorities in Cape Town, NGOs such as Heart Foundation and Cancer Association of South Africa and representatives from the health committees forum of Cape Town. Besides highlighting that passive smoking affected non-smokers, she also shared the success that the City of Cape Town Municipality had experienced since passing the regulation restricting smoking in many public places in Cape Town. The Forum ended its speech by interviewing a patient, Mr Mbasi, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Mr Mbasi was the only breadwinner in his family, but had been retrenched because of his illness.

The Chairperson opened the floor to questions. Ms Chalmers (ANC) wanted to know if the Cape Town Municipality would contribute to anti-smoking adverts so as to alleviate the money lost from tobacco-related adverts. Ms Davies said that she would have to take that suggestion back to her municipality. Another member of the committee asked for the success rate of the service offered to quit smoking. Ms Davies replied that the success rate was 75 -85%.

Keith Gretton, Expert on Environmental Tobacco Smoke
Environmental Tobacco Smoke or "passive smoking" did not contribute to diseases, such as lung cancer, according to Mr Gretton. He gave various examples of what might contribute to the disease, namely being over-weight, stress at work and eating red meat twice a day. In his submission, Mr Gretton mentioned that in July 1998, a US Federal Judge threw out the most important public policy risk assessment made on Environmental Tobacco Smoke and lung cancer. It was found that the US Environmental Protection Agency, which formulated the report, abused its power by deliberately misleading the US public through major scientific and procedural errors.

A member of the committee asked Mr Gretton if he was challenging research made by organisations, such as the Medical Research Council, which had proven that smoking was a health risk. Mr Gretton replied that the research conducted was on "active" smoking, not "passive" smoking. According to him, a distinction had to be made.

S. High, Depts. Of Business Science and Economics, UCT
Mr High said that the proposed Bill was unconstitutional as it restricted the right of free speech. According to him, advertising did not lead to smoking, rather it influenced which cigarette brand was bought. The Minister of Health would have to prove that advertisement would lead to smoking. From his perspective, the Minister would not be able to do so.

Airport Advertising
This submission was presented by Mr Marais, Managing Director of Airport Advertising (Propriety) Limited. He said that tobacco advertising generated approximately 12% of the company’s turnover and would have a negative impact on their financial results if it was banned. Added to this, the Government would loose about R30 million per annum, if tobacco bans were introduced. Tourism would not be able to flourish in this country as international visitors who smoke, would be offended. They would also be subject to huge fines if they smoked in public places.

Lowveld Golden Leaf
Ms Kentridge spoke on behalf of her client, Lowveld Golden Leaf. According to the Constitution of South Africa, the Bill was unconstitutional.

Dr Rabinowitz wanted to know could smoking in ventilated rooms (as opposed to no smoking in public places) be a compromise? Ms Kentridge replied that less drastic measures could also achieve the goals which the Bill proposes.

A member of the committee wanted to know which constitutional clause the Bill was contravening. Ms Kentridge answered that it was the clause on freedom of expression.

Cancer Association of South Africa
This NGO stated that a partial ban on tobacco advertisement would give partial results. According to Ms Everett, the tobacco industry would be able to get around the partial ban. A few examples would be, logos appearing on clothing, coffee shops displaying cigarette brand names and paying sporting heroes to smoke. The Cancer Association of South Africa stressed that if the social environment of South Africa was to be altered, a total ban on tobacco advertising would have to come into existence.

A member of the committee asked if the Cancer Association of South Africa agreed that a ban would be an infringement of freedom of expression, as highlighted by the previous speaker. Ms Everett answered by saying that the tobacco industry have paid scientists to alter their results. Their researchers were not independent. According to the World Health Organisation’s study in March 1998, passive smoking did cause lung cancer.

Corporation for Economic Research
Using comparative statistics from 1995 to 1997, Professor Black, director of Corporation for Economic Research, said the tobacco industry contributed 10 billion rands to the GDP of the country in 1997. Regarding job opportunities, approximately 99 thousand jobs were created and supported by the tobacco industry in 1997. Through another table of statistics, Prof. Black illustrated that the tobacco and related industries contributed R4,6 billion to government revenue in 1997. He concluded by saying that a drop in demand for tobacco-related products would cause a loss of approximately R7 billion in revenue and 15 000 jobs.

Henry Kenny, Business Department at Witwatersrand University
Mr Kenny said the result of a free society is giving people the right to smoke. According to Mr Kenny, the poor would bear the burden of the legislation. He concluded by saying that smoking increased economic growth and reduced unemployment.

The International Hotel and Restaurant Association
Mr Cox said a total ban on smoking would have a negative effect on the hospitality industry. He suggested that hospitality groups be excluded from the definition of "public places". An alternative to restrictive legislation was also mentioned, called the courtesy of choice programme. This programme balanced public health concerns with the needs of the hospitality industry. Mr Cox said that this programme was working effectively in 49 countries around the world.

Free Market Foundation
Mr Louw, executive director of the Free Market Foundation, began his presentation by asking who should make the decision whether or not smoking was allowed in restaurants . He said that it could be the owner or proprietor, the consumers, employees or government. According to him, the government was not entitled to make that decision, therefore it should be the first three parties mentioned above. What government wanted to enforce with the legislation would result in censorship and was therefore wrong. Using children as the reason for the ban was an emotive argument. Mr Louw stressed that the ban on smoking would result in people smoking at home, where children could not be protected.

Prof. Leach, Department of Business Economics, University of the Witwatersrand
Professor Leach commented on the findings of the Economics of Tobacco Control Project. This project found that anti-tobacco advertising and restricting advertising by cigarette manufacturers contributed to reducing cigarette consumption. Prof. Leach said the findings made were flawed as the consumption and advertising data were inaccurate. In conclusion, Prof. Leach said that it was well-known in marketing and economics that advertising had little or no effect on aggregate consumption. This result was confirmed in a 1996 survey article in the International Journal of Advertising.

Afternoon session:
Presentation by Miss Mosime from the University of the North West
She stressed educating the nation about tobacco before banning advertisements. She stated that the government has not educated the nation , and has not done any research before they had come to their conclusions.

Question by committee members:
Looking at the slogans stated in your document (i.e. Arrive alive, safe sex etc.), what is the main message that you are sending to the community?

Response: The message that tobacco is dangerous is needed by grassroots people - you cannot say to a person who has been using tobacco for a long time and even use it as a medicine, s/he must stop using it. That can only be said to those people who are about to start using tobacco, therefore you should let this thing filter through.

Presentation by David Krynauw, Managing Director of Cinemark from Stellenbosch
He commented on the banning of advertisements saying that the cinema industry is used to a censorship policy. The previous government had this bad habit and now again the country is moving to an era of censorship. The approach should be educating and focusing with relevance on media instead of limiting freedom of speech. If this Bill is passed the following issues will develop:
increase in ticket prices at cinemas
loss of jobs because it has an effect on profits
limited investment made by companies so building more cinemas will be limited
pressure to reduce salary increases and also on other economic issues

A campaign should be introduced that would warn youth about tobacco. The Bill is not only about smoking and health. If it was, the department would have spent money on educating the community. The Bill is just an attack on the freedom of commercial speech. One must be careful and not allow the government to decide for the people, the people should decide for themselves. For example, with drinking and driving there is no law but a campaign and this should also happen in this case.

Questions by committee members:
- Do you not think you should be loyal to the government (health department) and not the tobacco company. The tobacco company is in the process of making money and the government protects the community from the health risk of using tobacco.
Historically people could not decide for themselves and there was no consultation with people when making law. The heard here concerning tobacco farmers and the tobacco industry will be heard. Are you now saying that the government is out of order by what it is doing?
- What do you think about the suggestion of clinics educating youth about how dangerous tobacco is?

Response: The companies are trying to get business back and create jobs. We do not want loss.
In terms of loyalty to the Health Minister - children are not educated at schools about cigarettes.
In terms of clinics being build up for educating youth we will be able to do that.

Presentation by Ian Sheperd from Associated Printing
He stressed that the proposed legislation would have a great impact not only on the state but also on the community (i.e. workers and their dependents) and the associated industries. He said that it was strange that the government considered the banning of tobacco advertisements as the more essential factor rather than concentrating on other factors which destroyed the community. More people died from being addicted to other social drugs e.g. alcohol abuse, AIDS, drunken driving etc). It was strange to realise that the government did not consider the fact that money received from tobacco is spent mostly on sport, developing young talented people and other social activities. The government should also consider the unemployment rate which would increase if this legislation was to be accepted. He pointed out other factors which the government should also have taken into account. There were no questions.

Presentation by Steven Jurgens from British American Tobacco
He said that in a "dark market" the impact of the legislation will be that market shares will freeze and there will be price wars with cigarette prices being lowered, allowing and encouraging youngsters to access cigarettes as they will be cheaper. Therefore banning the advertisement of tobacco will lead to promoting access of cigarettes to young people.

He said that in well-established product markets, advertising influences the brand a consumer buys rather than the product itself.

His company does not support the proposed legislation as it does not give equal opportunity to tobacco companies to participate fairly in the national economy of South Africa. He asked the Department of Health to consider fairly a lot of concerns that are being addressed, and said that the tobacco companies are willing to participate in putting together a reasonable and sustainable legislation.

Questions asked by committee members:
Are you saying that you were not consulted (with reference to last paragraph in the submission)?

Response: Writing letters to newspapers is not consultation. Consultation would include listening to proposals provided by the stakeholders and then deciding after taking them into consideration. This did not happen and that is why he talks of a lack of consultation.

Ms Tambo wanted clarity on the issue of banning tobacco advertisements which according to the presenter would lead to greater access to tobacco by the youth? He explained that when tobacco advertisements are banned there will be a reduction in prices and this will lead to greater accessibility by youth as it will be affordable for everyone.

Presentation by Mr D Coetzee from the Ad Agencies
He raised the issue of self regulation . Amongst other points, he asked the committee how one would feel if one had had freedom for about 30 years and one day it was just taken from one. He said this is the situation in the tobacco industries. Lastly he said that a person who is addicted to tobacco cannot be forced to give up smoking, therefore this proposed legislation should focus on youth. No questions were raised.

Presentation by Mr. Reid Corin - Attorney
He said that he is representing 229 workers and over 1000 dependents through them. He said that his clients gave a personal account on the consequence or effect of the Bill to them and introduces
1. John Wilson - a spokes person for 221 people who are working in a tobacco industry and stand a chance of losing their jobs. He said that the workers rejected the proposed Bill on the ground that the economic loss which will exist due to the acceptance of the bill will not be tolerated and it will be discriminating to smokers. He said that it will lead to disrespect of law. Speaking on behalf of the worker he said they believe that it is the working class and responsible person who choosed to smoke, and they are enjoying themselves and have constitutional rights which cannot be taken among them. He said that the government's job is to pass the law for the benefit of the people and not pass the law which discriminates and taking away people's rights.

Louw Benson was also introduced to give personal view about the proposed legislation. As a 62 year smoker he said that he wants his interest to be protected.

Do you say an 18 year old has a right to do as s/he wants? Yes
Your tone tells me that you're not a worker but owner of the business. Tell me what are you? I'm a shareholder in the business

Presentation by DENOSA
The spokesperson represented a large group of health professionals in the country who cared for victims of smoking. She said that the limitation on smoking was regarded as reasonable especially for young and unborn children.

Questions by committee members:
- What campaigns have you undertaken especially for those who cannot read or write?
- Many in the tobacco industries claim that there is no proof of cancer being caused by smoking, what can you say about this?

Response: We have equipped nurses who are involved in educating the community and presently we are organising an anti-smoking campaign to focus on patients. In terms of research, we have only been in existence since October 1996 and have not gone through a lot of cases, therefore cannot respond to your question.

Presentation by Robertsons Foods
This presenter spoke of the concern for the impact of the proposed Bill on freedom of commercial speech, freedom of individual expression, and the precedent set for similar restrictions to be placed on any activity which may be demonstrably harmful. This organisation rejects the issue of the banning of advertisements on the grounds that without adverts there will be no freedom of communication.

Questions by committee members:
Clarity on relationship between freedom of speech and the Control of Tobacco Products Amendment Act was requested.

Response: By disallowing people to advertise this will lead to a limitation on the freedom of speech which the company presently has.

Ms Majola (ANC) asked that since a large number of people suffer from smoking, why do they not make that a priority rather than the loss of jobs?

Response: One might argue that jobs are more important since unemployment leads to crime. We are busy fighting the high crime rate in this country and therefore cannot bear seeing a lot of people losing their jobs.

Presentation by Archbishop M. Masiya: Council for Apostolic and Zion Churches in South Africa.
He said that they do not approve of smoking as it is a bad habit but they believe that medical assistance should be offer to those victims of smoking. He feels that the banning of advertisement will definitely lead to a limitation on the freedom of speech and that he hopes that the Bill will not be approved as it will send the wrong message to the public especially for the 1999 elections.

Questions by committee members:
- Is it right to believe that once people have engaged with smoking that they cannot give it up. Are you then suggesting that people should continue smoking or what?
- For many years health education has been conducted. Do you think that if there is a campaign against tobacco that it can reform people?
What type of punishment do you think people who break this proposed law should receive?
Why are you saying that the Bill should not be passed for the sake of 1999 elections?

Response: He did not say it should not be passed, but he said that he hoped it would not be passed for the sake of the 1999 elections. It is not a matter of people being punished, but he believe that they should be educated. He was not saying that people should continue smoking, but was showing that the banning of advertisements will not have much impact on a smoker as they will continue smoking.


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