Smoking in the workplace in South Africa: Law and practice relating to the rights and obligations of employers and employees
South Africans have a high prevalence of smoking. The preamble to the Tobacco Products Control Act, which regulates the production, marketing, advertising, selling and smoking of tobacco products in public places, acknowledges that tobacco use ‘is extremely injurious to the health of smokers, non-smokers and other users of tobacco products’; ‘has caused widespread addiction in society’; and ‘warrants, in the public interest, a restrictive legislation’. One of the objectives of the Tobacco Products Control Act is to regulate the circumstances in which tobacco products can be used in public places, including workplaces. The Act makes smoking in a public place an offence and obliges employers who still allow smoking in the workplace to provide designated smoking areas. However, the Act also empowers employers to ban smoking totally at workplaces. This paper highlights the provisions and regulations relating to smoking in workplaces and discusses the reported cases in which the various bargaining council arbitrators have dealt with the issue of employers’ and employees’ rights in cases relating to smoking at workplaces.