Tobacco affects our human rights to life, health and a healthy environment, and must be better regulated, say South Africa’s prominent health organisations forming part of the #protectournext movement. With International Human Rights Day falling on December 10th, these organisations including the National Council Against Smoking, CANSA, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) are joining others around the world in calling for bold action in tobacco control to protect our right to health. The 2020 theme, ‘Recover Better - Stand Up for Human Rights’ relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts.
The majority of smokers regret ever starting. With the festive season approaching, those who want to quit may think of putting it off until the new year. Right now is the time to focus on kicking the habit – you’ll feel much better by Christmas and be ready to kick off 2021 as a non-smoker, says Dr. Sharon Nyatsanza of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), a #protectournext partner. She gives smokers some tips on quitting smoking, and staying quit, during the holiday period.
Sharon Nyatsanza (PhD), National Council Against Smoking (NCAS)
The HIV virus compromises the immune system, and smoking weakens it further. Tobacco use in people living with HIV increases the risk of death and worsens health outcomes. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 24% of HIV-related deaths are attributable to smoking. Consequently, it is concerning that a high percentage of people living with HIV use tobacco products. A study published in the Nicotine and Tobacco Research journal found that an estimated 30% of people living with HIV in South Africa use tobacco products.
As the focus falls on the youth this Africa Youth Month, health organisations partnering in the #protectournext initiative are focusing on the challenge e-cigarettes or vape products are posing to protecting youth and reducing tobacco use. These products may create a new generation of young nicotine and tobacco users, undermining decades of progress in reducing tobacco use and nicotine addiction, say the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), CANSA, the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of SA. “We are calling for government to take e-cigarettes seriously, act quickly, and regulate them appropriately by passing the Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill in South Africa into law before a new generation is addicted to nicotine,” says Dr. Sharon Nyatsanza of NCAS.
Protect Our Next
Tweets by National Council Against Smoking
Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that in South Africa (SA) alone, smoking results in more than half of lung cancer deaths, 37% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease deaths, and over 20% of cardiovascular deaths and tuberculosis (TB) deaths. Smoking-related TB deaths are especially prevalent in South Africa, due to a higher vulnerability of HIV-positive individuals to TB. Because it attacks the lungs, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke or vape.
The new Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill will make it easier for South Africans to choose smoke-free lives, regulate the danger of e-cigarettes and decrease the impact of second-hand smoke on the majority of the population, who are non-smokers. Why is taking time to implement? Tobacco industry profits are at the expense of addicted smokers, their families, and public health. Together, the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa are steadfast in campaigning for the new Bill to be passed. It’s time for our people and our government to show leadership in implementing global best practice to curb the onslaught of big tobacco.
Zanele Mthembu, Public Health Development and Policy Consultant
Savera Kalideen, Executive Director of the National Council Against Smoking
Sharon Nyatsanza, Project and Communications Manager, National Council Against Smoking
Lorraine Govender, National Advocacy Co-Ordinator, Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA)
Professor Pamela Naidoo, CEO, The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa
Dr Catherine Egbe, Specialist Scientist: Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drug Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council
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