Last updated: September 27, 2021
South Africa became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on July 18, 2005.
Smoke Free Places
Designated smoking areas in indoor workplaces, public places, and public transport are allowed. For workplaces and specified public places, up to 25 percent of floor space may be set aside for smoking. Specified public places include: smoking establishments, bars, pubs, taverns, night clubs, casinos, restaurants, hotels, guesthouses, Bed & Breakfasts, game lodges, and airports. In passenger ships and passenger trains with more than 10 cars, up to 25 percent of the space may be designated as smoking areas. Passenger trains with fewer than 10 cars may designate only one car as a smoking area. Sub-national jurisdictions can enact smoke free laws that are more stringent than the national law.
Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship
Nearly all forms of tobacco advertising and promotion are prohibited, with certain exceptions including that tobacco products may be visible at point of sale but must be displayed in such a manner that customers may not handle tobacco products prior to purchase. Although sponsorship by the tobacco industry is not completely prohibited, publicity of the sponsorship is prohibited.
Tobacco Packaging and Labeling
Rotating text-only health warnings covering 15 percent of the front of the package and 25 percent of the back of the package are required on cigarette packaging. Misleading packaging and labeling, including terms such as “light” and “low tar,” is prohibited.
Cigarette Contents and Disclosures
The law grants authority to the Ministry of Health to regulate specified contents of cigarettes, but no such regulations have been issued to date. The law requires that manufacturers and importers disclose to government authorities information on the contents and emissions of their products; however, regulations detailing the required disclosures have not yet been issued.
The law prohibits the sale of tobacco products via the internet and in health and educational institutions. In addition, the law restricts the sale of tobacco product vending machines to designated smoking areas. However, there are no restrictions on the sale of individual cigarettes or in small packets. The sale of tobacco products is prohibited to persons under the age of 18.
Roadmap to Tobacco Control Legislation
The Tobacco Products Control Act 83 of 1993 is the primary tobacco control law in South Africa and governs many aspects of tobacco control, including, but not limited to, public smoking restrictions; packaging and labeling of tobacco products; and tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Several tobacco control regulations have been issued under this law including: 1) Regulations Relating to the Labeling, Advertising, and Sale of Tobacco Products (which regulates packaging and labeling); 2) Notice Relating to Smoking of Tobacco Products in Public Places (which regulates public smoking); 3) Regulations Relating to the Point of Sale of Tobacco Products (which regulates signs at point of sale and product display); and 4) Regulations Relating to Provisions for Exemption For Unintended Consequences and the Phasing out of Existing Sponsorship or Contractual Obligations (which exempts cross-border advertising from the ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship).
This country’s legal measures were reviewed by our legal staff in consultation with in-country lawyers or tobacco control experts.