Tobacco ad ban proposed in South Africa

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JOHANNESBURG -- The South African government has published draft legislation that would prohibit all advertising or promotion of cigarettes and tobacco products, and would give the Minister of Health power to ban smoking in any public place.

The Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill would also halt sponsorships by tobacco companies and the use of tobacco brand names on clothing or any product other than a tobacco pack, and would place new limitations on the sale of cigarettes to people under the age of 16.

The draft bill has been published for comment, which must be submitted by Aug. 14. Thereafter it may be passed into law "on a date fixed by the president."

The publication of the bill is no surprise, as the government made its intentions known about two years ago. But, says Derrick Dickens, executive director of the Association of Marketers, there has been no softening of the legislation in response to previous protestations.

"There are no loopholes," says Mr. Dickens. "This bill is tough by any standards. We shall fight it."

Mr. Dickens admits, however, that he holds out little hope of Health Minister Nkosazana Zuma modifying the bill. This will take the fight into the constitutional court, where Mr. Dickens believes there is a greater chance of success.

"We believe that if a product may be sold legally, it should be legal to advertise it," he says. "This legislation interferes grossly with commercial freedom of speech."

Copyright July 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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