Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Do the smoking laws apply to your business?

The answer – in almost all cases a resounding YES

As employers, we are not always 100% sure which new laws create any liabilities or responsibilities for us. You may think that you only have a small business, employing perhaps only one or two people, both of whom may be smokers. Fact is – smoking is prohibited in all public places! This includes any indoor, enclosed or partially enclosed area that is open to the public – yes, this includes a workplace!

The new tobacco law (Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act, 1999 (Act No. 12 of 1999) ) gazetted on Friday, 29th September 2000 by the South African Department of Health was passed to protect the rights of all South Africans to breathe clean air by controlling smoking in public places and to ensure a healthy environment for daily activities –from work to travel and public events.

What does this mean for employers? Now you have an ethical, moral and legal responsibility to protect the environment of all people in your workplace by establishing a smoke-free workplace, even if you work from home or have a small business where there are only one or two smokers.

Further, employers must have a written policy on smoking in the workplace and you are also totally free to prohibit smoking in the workplace. You are required to display signs and make announcements to inform any person who enters an area where smoking is prohibited or of the prohibition. So make sure you source the appropriate signs to display prominently and amend your existing smoking policy and rules in the workplace to ensure they comply with the amended smoking act.

Non-compliance with the tobacco act: any employer failing to comply with the obligations stated above, imposed by the act is liable for a fine not exceeding R100 000, similarly any employee that fails to comply with the regulations may be liable for a fine not exceeding R50 000.

If we can assist you in any way to compile your smoking policies or any other workplace policies, please call us for a consultation – 021 8515493 / 078 802 9708.

Remember – you may completely prohibit smoking and yes, you do need a policy!

Wishing you great success,

Ilene Power