CLARION PRINTED PRODUCTS
REPRESENTATION TO THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HEALTH
THE TOBACCO PRODUCTS AMENDMENT BILL
Mr Chairman and Members of the Portfolio Committee on Health, I thank you for the opportunity given to make this representation. Firstly, please be advised that I represent the 74 members of staff of Clarion Printed Products (Pty) Ltd and their 156 dependents.
I have a schedule of signatures which gives me the authority to represent these persons in this matter.
We have discussed this matter both formally and informally within the various Staff and Management Structures of our company. Staff Members were advised that they were to use their Freedom of Choice and Speech when deciding whether they wished to support this representation.
We have considered carefully the potential impact of the consumption of tobacco
products on a persons health. We have considered the economic impact that a ban on the advertising of tobacco products will have on our company Clarion Printed Products. We have attempted to take a broader and more socially responsible position. We have tried to be fair and not allow the economic impact that we as individuals will feel to entirely cloud our sense of judgment.
It is our opinion that the Minister of Health is obligated to protect the individual health of the citizens of South Africa through regulation of health warnings and certain controls on tobacco products advertising.
ECONOMIC IMPACT ON CLARION PRINTED PRODUCTS (PTY) LTD
Under the current economic climate which exists in South Africa at the moment, the impact of a ban on the advertising of tobacco products could be disastrous for a company like Clarion Printed Products. Over the years the volume of work secured by our company from this sector has ranged from a high of in excess of 35% of turnover to a current level of 12% on average over the last 12 months. This might lead one to believe that a loss of 12% of our turnover would have no significant impact. But the following needs to be noted.
When first advised of the potential ban on advertising of tobacco products, Clarion Printed Products took upon itself to reduce it's dependence on work secured from this sector. This has proved extremely difficult and costly. Most importantly of all the Cash Flow implication soon became apparent.
In this regard it is misleading to look at the average percentage turnover of work which we currently do for this sector. In certain months the percentage ranges closer to 20/25%. In these months the Cash Flow from this work has to frank, kept us alive. What would have happened without this turnover is a question which needs to answered.
Quite clearly, retrenchments would have followed and the company been placed seriously at risk. This ultimately having the potential to lead to the unemployed on our streets increasing by 74 persons and 156 dependents suffering unnecessary hardship.
It is too flippant to say that these unemployed persons could find alternative employment. Within our industry, a number of competitors have already been forced to close down with a large player having announced only yesterday that they would be closing at the end of November. Employment prospects in our industry are already grim.
Job creation is a cornerstone of the socio-economic future of South Africa and whilst respecting the Ministers determination to take care of the Health of the People, we believe that true health in it's broader sense can only be achieved once employment has been made available to the overwhelming majority of our People. Legislation which is prepared to sacrifice jobs, needs to take serious note of the social implications. In South Africa today, law and order has all but broken down. Hardly a person or someone close to them can be found today, who has not become a victim.
Having good intentions but without taking into account the broader implications to our society, will not necessarily be serving the best interests of our society.
The victims of the breakdown of law and order and social indiscipline within our society would be grateful if some of the energy and cost already expended in respect of this Bill, could be re-directed to Safety, Security and Policing. The cost to the National Health Budget incurred by these victims must far exceed the cost currently being incurred in assisting those who the Minister contends are the victims of tobacco products.
For many of us it is only in recent times that we have frilly enjoyed a hard-won
This freedom comes after many years of oppression and struggle. A denial of Human Rights. The very document, Our Constitution, which enshrines most emphatically, all that so many made so many sacrifices to achieve, we believe is now being threatened.
We would request that the Minister of Health as part of her portfolio, must vigorously attempt to communicate to both young and old, smoker and non smoker alike, the potential danger of smoking. This we believe should be through the already implemented Health Warning Legislation, constructive restrictions on certain forms of advertising and the content thereof, as well as an ongoing communications program to highlight these potential dangers. As well as sociably acceptable rules in respect of smoking in public places.
The Minister would serve South Africa well to increase the minimum age from 16 to 18 years as a condition for the sale of tobacco products.
But, we believe that the Freedom of Choice and Decision to participate in the practice of the consumption of tobacco products should be left to the individual. The presumption of the Minister to make this decision on behalf of the People is to move back in the direction of the previous government and its history of arrogance.
The total ban on the advertising of tobacco products would deny the people the Freedom of Choice.
We believe that the Minister is applying rules selectively. We ask the question, what right does the Minister and the Government for that matter, have to generate approximately ~ billion in excise duty whilst at the same time through this Bill depriving us of the right to produce advertising material for the tobacco industry. How is it possible to ban advertising of a product that is legally sold and from which the State generates such revenue. Is this not selective?
We were likewise concerned to note that the Minister of Sport was reported in the press to be considering certain exemptions. The South African Grand Prix for example.
The People of Clarion Printed Products have unavoidably the impression that their economic well being could well be sacrificed. We consider this to be arrogant in it's selection and a further affront to our Constitution.
We question the argument that a ban on tobacco advertising will reduce the consumption of tobacco products. It is our belief that consumption may initially be impacted upon, but that in the medium term no serious impact will occur.
Contrary to the belief that tobacco advertising has a profound effect on encouraging young people to commence the consumption of tobacco products, we are of the belief that "Peer Pressure Advertising" has more impact and this will not be impacted upon by a ban on the advertising of tobacco products. The danger of what you are told you cannot do has the potential to encourage young people to participate rather than the opposite.
We believe that we are a mature and intelligent people who need to be assisted through the providing of factual information in respect of the consumption of tobacco products so as to make our own informed decisions. A ban on tobacco products advertising has the potential to deny us this information. This is a further affront to both our intelligence and our Constitution.
We would request that the Minister seriously reconsider the Tobacco Products Amendment Bill. The Minister through carefully constructive legislation can meet her responsibilities to the people without imposing economic hardship on the people.
The Minister and the Tobacco Industry have a obligation to the People to come together under an Umbrella of Joint Responsibility to put in place a Bill that will in a balanced and fair way take care of both the Health and Commercial interests without challenging the integrity of our Constitution.
Finally, we would ask you both to respect the People.