Smoking ban will push people to illegal shebeens - Liquor Forum

Ahmed Areff, News24

Johannesburg - If smoking is completely banned in public spaces, such as taverns, it will push more people to frequent illegal shebeens, the Gauteng Liquor Forum said.

The forum's president, Linda Madida, told News24 that banning public smoking would also lead to corruption in the police and occupy the time of officers who needed to focus on serious crimes.

"A ban will affect us in a big way. Our businesses depend on liquor and tobacco. Not everyone smokes and some people smoke only when they drink," he said.

"Now we have spent money building sections where people want to smoke. If the minister wants to ban it completely, we will have to change again, and that will cost more money."

He said patrons often wanted a place where they could drink and smoke at the same time.

"We want all the taverns and shebeens to be legal. People will go to the illegal shebeens to smoke if they can't at the legal ones."

Madida was responding to recent comments by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in which he proposed banning public smoking.

'Don't force them – educate them'

The minister told eNCA that there should be no-smoking zones and that it did not make sense to have a designated smoking zone in places like hospitals.

He also proposed banning electronic cigarettes.

The Citizen reported last month that Motsoaledi said at the funeral of Public Service and Administration Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi’s mother in Segole village in Limpopo that his department was busy with the new legislation.

The ban could see people barred from smoking 50m from the entrances of public buildings.

He reportedly said there would also be a ban on smoking sections in restaurants and that tobacco products should not be displayed in shops.

Madida said educating people about the dangers of smoking would be better than banning it outright in public places.

"People must gradually understand. Don't force them – educate them."

He said Motsoaledi needed to engage the forum to find the right way to curb smoking.

"The minister must take us seriously because we are key players," Madida said.

"He must call us and we must meet. He will then know we have so many plans to help him educate people on smoking."