The objectives of the Tobacco Products Control Act 23 of 2007 were, amongst others, to protect non-smokers from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke and to encourage existing users to give up smoking.
With the publication of the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act, Act No. 63 of 2008 that came into operation 21 August 2009, only one new obligation has been placed on employers.
It affects those employers who, on their premises, provide vending machines containing tobacco products in any indoor or outdoor location.
Those employers must ensure that the vending machine is for the sale of tobacco products only and a notice must be displayed on the vending machine that tobacco products are available for sale, accompanied by all the other information required by the Act. The employer must also ensure that the premises in which any vending machine is kept that no person under the age of 18 years makes use of the vending machine.
The prohibition of selling or supplying tobacco products to any person under the age of 16 has been raised to 18 years.
It remains the duty of an employer to have a smoking policy in place. Employers must continue to ensure that employees may object to smoking in the workplace in contravention of the Act and that those employees who do not want to be exposed to tobacco smoke in the workplace are not exposed.
It may never be a condition of employment that an employee is required to work in any portion of the workplace where smoking is permitted and employees may not be required to sign any indemnity for working in such a place.
Employees are not entitled to a smoke break. They may, by arrangement with the employer, work time in, taken off for a smoke break.
Faan Coezee, Director, National Practice Head: Employment law and
Candidate Attorney, Employment law