Botswana adopts a comprehensive tobacco control law

Photograph: Hon. Dr Edwin G. Dikoloti, Minister of Health and Wellness, who was a strong advocate for the adoption of the new law. (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Botswana).

The “Tobacco Control Act 2021” was passed by the National Assembly on 16 August 2021, and published in the official gazette of Botswana on 29 October 2021. This new Act repeals the Control of Smoking Act of 1992.

The new law establishes the multisectoral Tobacco Control Committee. Those who are engaged directly or indirectly with the tobacco industry cannot be appointed as members of the Committee.

Additionally, only a licensed person can sell tobacco or tobacco products, and fines are applied to offenders.

The Act prohibits smoking in enclosed public places or enclosed private or public workplaces (including offices, health institutions and educational facilities, among others), public service vehicles and any public place, defined as any place accessible to the general public or place for collective use, regardless of ownership or right of access. Fines are established for those that contravene this prohibition. Additionally, in case of interpreting the provisions of the Act, any situation shall be resolved in favour of protecting non-smokers.

Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship are now banned, as well as the display of tobacco products, including at point of sale. Regarding packaging and labelling, the law establishes that pictorial health warnings should cover not less than 70% of each principal display area and be written in the official languages. The inclusion in the packaging and labelling of deceptive terms such as “light”, “ultra light” and “slim”, among others, is banned.

The minimum package size for smoked tobacco products is now established at 20 sticks. The sale of any tobacco product is banned to any person under 21 years of age, and these products cannot be sold by any person under 21 years of age. The sale of products through vending machines is also banned.

The Act also ensures the application of Article 5.3 of the Convention in the interaction of a public body with the tobacco industry, requiring full transparency of such interactions, which should take place only when necessary for effective regulation. The Act prohibits any partnership, agreement or contributions, including voluntary contributions, among others, from the tobacco industry to any public body.

For more information, please, contact Malebogo Letswee, Ministry of Health and Wellness (