South Africa is one step closer to tightening up its already tough smoking laws, which health department officials say will effectively criminalise smoking.
The Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill was tabled in parliament on Wednesday and is likely to be on the statute books by year-end.
It will bring in massive fines and tighten up loopholes in existing legislation.
Among others, it bans the entry of anyone under 18 into smoking areas.
It also gives the health minister the right to prohibit the smoking of any tobacco product in a any prescribed outdoor place "where persons are likely to congregate within close proximity of one another or where smoking may pose a fire or other hazard".
The Bill increased penalties so that they would become a real deterrent against contravention of the country's tobacco laws.
The fine for the owner of a public place or employer who failed to ensure that there was no smoking in a smoke-free area had been increased from R200 to a minimum of R20 000, he said.
The penalty for selling tobacco products to a minor and for failure to comply with regulations on vending machines had been increased from R10 000 to a minimum of R100 000, Mngadi said.
The penalty for advertising and giving away free cigarettes had been increased from R200 000 to a minimum of R1-million.
The Bill also makes it an offence for an individual to smoke in a non-smoking area and the penalty is set at not less than R300.
Mngadi said the proposed penalties were comparable to those in other legislation.
He noted that the fine for selling liquor to a person under 18 was R1-million or five years in prison.