Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced on Wednesday evening that government will uphold the ban on tobacco products as South Africa moves into Level 4 lockdown, saying that smoking increased risk of COVID-19 and increased harmful disease outcomes in smokers who contracted the disease.
The announcement comes as the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), South African Medical Research Council (Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit), the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa launch a campaign called “Protect our next” to encourage smokers to stop smoking and to increase awareness of and support for South Africa’s Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill.
You can now buy cigarettes. Choose not to.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has outlined measures to open South Africa’s economy and confirmed that the country will move to Level 4 lockdown. Among other relaxation of lockdown measures, this means that grocery stores and other retail outlets will now sell all items in their stores. This has resulted in the sale of a range of items previously listed as non-essential, including cigarettes.
Public Health Policy and Development Consultant Zanele Mthembu says, “While we believe it was a greatly beneficial decision to exclude cigarettes from the list of essential items during Level 5 of the lockdown, we understood that this ban would be temporary. We are focused on the long term protection of society from tobacco harm through strengthening overall tobacco control measures and legislation, which have a proven positive impact on health worldwide. We are calling on government to pass South Africa’s Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, which has been in the pipeline for some time. Better tobacco control legislation would certainly be of great benefit in the time of a respiratory pandemic. We urge government to take rapid action on this.”
During the lockdown period to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, tobacco products and e-cigarettes are not being sold to the public. If you are a smoker, this is the opportunity to turn a new page and stop smoking for good. Dr. Sharon Nyatsanza of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) gives smokers some tips on quitting smoking.
Stay at home, say NO to tobacco and stay safe South Africa! This is the message from the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa as they encourage smokers to take the opportunity to quit during lockdown and protect the health of their families.
The campaign comes against a backdrop of tobacco companies fuelling the debate on the ban on cigarette sales during lockdown, even as more evidence emerges that smokers face double the risk of serious COVID-19 complications. “We applaud government’s efforts to curb the COVID-19 pandemic and call upon the government to stand by the decision to ban the sale of cigarettes as lockdown continues,” says Savera Kalideen, Executive Director of NCAS. “However, while banning the sale of cigarettes and related tobacco products during the lockdown period was a hugely positive move, we also remain concerned with longer term tobacco control measures to protect the right to health of all our people.”
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
Protect your family
Tips to Quit
Focus on Tobacco Control Legislation
Smoking in the spotlight
Stop smoking in the time of Coronavirus.
Smoking and lung disease
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