15 Apr 2014 08:20am
WINDHOEK, 15 APR (NAMPA) The Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA) has expressed disappointment at the enactment of the Namibian Tobacco Products Control Act, 2010 and its regulations without the due consideration of industry proposals.
In a statement issued here on Monday, TISA's chairperson Francois van der Merwe said TISA and its members have always advocated for balanced and enforceable regulations.
TISA is the industry body for the tobacco industry in South Africa, and its mandate and reach extends into the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
It represents tobacco-growers, leaf merchants, leaf processors, manufacturers as well as importers and exporters of tobacco products in South Africa.
We acknowledge the rights of consumers and the general public to be informed of the risks associated with the usage of tobacco products.
However, we believe that the Act and regulations go beyond what is necessary to educate the public about the risks of tobacco, instead introducing extreme measures which seek to ostracize smokers by preventing them from smoking indoors, Van der Merwe stated.
He said these public smoking restrictions will mostly impact small businesses in the informal sector, as well as those businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors which have already made significant investments to accommodate smokers.
Van der Merwe said these are businesses which are at the forefront of driving economic growth and creating employment opportunities in Namibia.
The regulations also limit the intellectual property and trademark rights of manufacturers, who are selling a legal product.
Extreme measures, such as the packaging stipulations introduced by the Regulations, also contribute towards the commoditisation of cigarettes, which will ultimately make it difficult to differentiate between tobacco products, and therefore easier to counterfeit.
This is in a country experiencing rapid growth in the illicit trade in cigarettes, he charged.
Van der Merwe added that TISA will continue to engage transparently with all stakeholders, including government, to share their expertise to inform sensible regulations.
TISAs comments come after the Namibian government introduced a ban on smoking in public places, effective from 01 July this year.
According to the Tobacco Products Control Act, the finances of the Tobacco Products Control Fund will consist of monies appropriated by Parliament for the purposes of the Fund, as well as donations or contributions made to the Fund for the purposes of the achievement of its objectives.