Dr Sharon Nyatsanza of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) says a respiratory pandemic is an opportune time for an increased focus on tobacco control, especially as new evidence shows a strong link between smoking and increased risks of severe COVID-19. According to UK Biobank research published in a leading respiratory journal, Thorax, smoking increases the chances of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms by 80% and increases the risk of death by 511%, for smokers who smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day.
A new initiative to #SwitchoffTobacco in Mamelodi launches this week. A dynamic team of Protect our Next ambassadors will be educating the Mamelodi community about the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarettes and explaining how the new Tobacco Control Bill will better protect communities. Community media and social channels will carry #SwitchoffTobacco discussions, while the ambassadors visit local schools, churches, taxi ranks, malls, traders and community hotspots over the next month with an engaging edutainment programme that encourages the whole community to pledge to be tobacco free.
Statement from the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) – Sharon Nyatsanza, Deputy Director
SARS should not be accepting donations or gifts from the tobacco companies. A Fin24 special report published earlier today reveals that SARS accepted donations of equipment used to destroy illicit cigarettes. This is like partnering with the fox to protect the hen house.
Instead of taking gifts from tobacco manufacturers, SARS should be investigating all tobacco companies, on allegations of tax evasion and complicity in illicit trade. None of the tobacco companies’ hands are clean, and SARS must start to see tobacco companies as part of the problem of illicit trade and not the solution.
Tobacco control could have greatest impact on reducing cardiovascular disease
Shaistah Bux comes from a family of smokers, and lost several family members to cardiovascular disease (CVD). The death of her father from a heart attack when she was 16 was devastating, but when two of her uncles also had a heart attacks within months of each other, the tables turned. Shaistah, a smoker since the age of 9, had become a 2-pack a day chain-smoker by 31. She immediately destroyed all her cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia and quit cold turkey. Now, almost two years later, her own risk of heart disease has dramatically reduced.
“I feel so much better, although it is still very challenging to be in smoky social environments, to see people smoking and to be around friends who smoke,” says Bux. “Having struggled with my own nicotine addiction and having seen how smoking can destroy families, I wish people wouldn’t smoke in public spaces and that young people could be more aware of the harms and not be exposed to cigarettes as much.”
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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Focus on Tobacco Control Legislation
Smoking in the spotlight
Stop smoking in the time of Coronavirus.
Smoking and lung disease
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