An energetic team of #protectournext storytellers has been visiting schools in the Gauteng area this Africa Youth Month to make children aware of the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarettes or vape products as well as educating them about the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Services Bill. With all COVID-19 protocols observed, the team has received a positive response from educators and learners alike as they enjoy the edutainment on offer and actively participate in discussing the issues the youth face with regard to tobacco. #protectournext ambassadors are also visiting local taxi ranks and malls, strategically selected to align with the schools rollout.
Health organisations forming the #protectournext movement have called for a 100% increase in tobacco tax ahead of the mid-term budget speech next week. A significant increase can make tobacco products less affordable, reducing consumption, improving public health, reducing the already heavy burden on the health system and adding to state revenue, say the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), CANSA, the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA.
As the spotlight falls on breast cancer this October, it's time to give our teens even more reason not to light up. Research indicates that adolescent breast tissue is particularly vulnerable to the carcinogenic properties of tobacco. Considering the high incidence of breast cancer in South Africa, (lifetime risk of 1 in 26 women) and the fact that over 16% of young learners smoke, we must find ways to stop girls from becoming hooked on nicotine, says Lorraine Govender of the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA).
September is Heart Awareness Month, culminating on World Heart Day (WHD) on 29 September. Protect our Next, a coalition of health organisations supporting better tobacco control, is shining a spotlight on tobacco consumption as a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and the tobacco control measures in South Africa that could help prevent unnecessary CVD and other deaths. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA), heart disease and strokes have the second highest mortality rate in South Africa, after TB, HIV and AIDS. CVDs are responsible for one in five deaths, with over 82 000 lives lost annually.
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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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