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.
#protectournext is a partnership between major health organisations, including the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit (ATODRU) of the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa. “We want to inspire a tobacco-free generation and we are focused on protecting the younger generation from tobacco industry manipulation and nicotine and tobacco addiction,” says NCAS Executive Director Savera Kalideen. “We’re involving young learners to join us as we work to educate, inform and free South Africans from the tobacco epidemic that threatens our next generation. We must take back our health from big tobacco bullies.”
Educators have welcomed the initiative, saying that children are both exposed to and experimenting with tobacco at a young age. “Many of our learners have parents and relatives who smoke. This will help the children to understand the dangers and to better protect themselves, and we also hope they will take the message home,” says Vice Principal Patrick Ndange of Emfundisweni Primary School. “Parents who want to quit are encouraged to reach out to NCAS and CANSA for support.”
Prof Pamela Naidoo of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa says that “Tobacco use and electronic devices have a medium to long-term effect on health outcomes. The earlier one starts to use tobacco and nicotine the greater ones risks for heart disease, strokes, other circulatory disorders and respiratory conditions”.
More than 80% of current smokers smoked their first cigarette in their teens, according to Dr. Catherine Egbe, specialist scientist at SAMRC. “The earlier children initiate tobacco use, the more difficult it will be for them to quit. Children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life. The nicotine in tobacco and alternative products such as, e-cigarettes is a highly addictive drug that can alter the development of the brains of young people, which are still developing until the age of 25.”
Kalideen says passing the proposed Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Services Bill, which is currently moving through its policy pathway in South Africa, is a vital part of better protecting young people. The new Bill would require that any indoor public place is 100% smoke-free, and will make certain outdoor public places smoke-free too. It will further ban smoking in private dwellings used for commercial child care and educational activities, and in cars carrying children under 18. Cigarette advertising at tills and the sale of cigarette via vending machines, which is a channel for young people to access cigarettes would also be prohibited if this bill is passed into law.
Importantly, the new Bill seeks to regulate e-cigarettes or vape products as cigarettes. “Our current legislation predates e-cigarettes and manufacturers have used the legislative vacuum to promote these devices and appeal to youth – including marketing e-liquids which come in a number of flavours to make them more appealing to young people. We must close the legislative gap and prevent a new generation from becoming addicted to nicotine,” says Kalideen.
Dr Egbe concludes, “Young people must break free from the manipulation of the tobacco and e-cigarette industries and see their tactics for what they are: another form of marketing designed to recruit young people as a replacement market for a generation of older smokers. Educating our youth is vitally important, and everyone can help by teaching about the dangers and helping young people understand the risk.”
HOW CAN YOU JOIN THE FIGHT AGAINST THE TOBACCO EPIDEMIC?
Follow @protectournext on social media and become an anti-tobacco warrior.
Educate yourself and others on the harms of nicotine and tobacco product use.
Support the implementation of the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill in South Africa. This will improve tobacco control legislation and can help prevent industry exploitation of regulatory loopholes to manipulate c children and adolescents to start using tobacco products like e-cigarettes, cigarettes and hookah pipes
Facebook and Twitter:@protectournext
Available for interview:
Savera Kalideen, Executive Director, NCAS
Dr Catherine Egbe, Specialist Scientist: Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council
Lorraine Govender, National Advocacy Co-Ordinator, CANSA
Professor Pamela Naidoo, CEO, The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa
Zanele Mthembu, Public Health Policy and Development Consultant
#protectournext Activation Schedule:
Ivory Park Primary 3 November 2020
Emfundisweni Primary 4 November 2020
Ebony Park Primary 10 November 2020
Dr Mathole Motshekgo Primary 11 November 2020
Asteri Primary 18 November 2020
The Bridge Primary 25 November 2020
Carlswald Mall 6 November 2020
Birch Acres Mall 13 November 2020
Fourways Crossing 20 November 2020
MTN Rank Mall 27 November 2020
Ivory Park Taxi Rank 2 3 November 2020
Ivory Park Taxi Rank 2 12 November 2020
MTN Rank Mall 19 November 2020
Fourways Taxi Rank 26 November 2020
October/November Roaming Ambassador Programme
Midrand 5 November 2020
Cosmo City 12 November 2020
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