Would you risk going to jail for having a smoke?PJ Prins
The South African government plans to use the threat of jail time to force people to quit smoking…
Yes, you read that right. We all know the South African government has it in for smokers (sin tax, controlled sales, limited smoking areas…), but this time they really exceeded everyone’s expectations.
The proposed legislation (which we expect to be steam-roller-ed through, as usual), contains some drastic items:
2. There will be no more smoking areas inside restaurants and pubs, and we can assume that goes for casinos too. It will be 100% smoke-free. And since you cannot go outside to smoke…
Do the math.
3. You won’t be able to smoke in a vehicle with passengers (really? Even if both – or all – of them smoke?).
4. Vending machines will be a thing of the past – because they can be accessed by minors. It will carry a jail term of up to one year.
5. Besides the company logo (not the brand logo), everything else on the packet must be plain text. This also goes for e-cigarettes.
Note: That could make it even more difficult to spot fake cigarettes – so when you buy from any smaller supplier, you will have no way of knowing whether you are buying cigarettes from a legitimate tobacco company, or whether you are buying rubbish with a fake brand name on it. The risk to your health (if you smoke) is about increase.
6. In the workplace, employers must prevent non-smoking employees from being exposed to smoking, or risk both jail time and civil lawsuits.
But where does that leave YOU?
Let’s face it: South Africa’s government has a history of passing laws first, and (not even) worrying about the impact later.
In this case, they plan to pass the law first, and THEN determine the enforcement policy. In other words, from the time when it becomes illegal to smoke outside, it could take a very long time before you will have a space to smoke…
And if you decide to ignore the law and have a smoke in a public area in the meantime, you can be sent to prison for 3 months.
Yes, that’s harsh. But will you be willing to risk three months in jail for having a smoke?
The likely reaction from the public will be two-fold:
1. Some people will stop smoking, rather than give up their lifestyles.
2. Some people will give up their lifestyles, rather than quit smoking.
Which one of those will you be?
Will you be the man who won’t take his wife out to dinner on your anniversary, because you can’t stay without a smoke for so long?
Will you be the mom who won’t take her kids to the beach, because you can’t smoke there?
Will you be the parent who won’t attend your son’s rugby game because you can’t have a smoke?
Or will you be the one who throws caution to the wind, and risk going to jail for three months?
Somehow I don’t think so.
You’re a better person than that.