Learners across the country are hard at work creating striking mural artworks on winning by not smoking through a national tobacco education initiative that forms part of the National Department of Health ‘Sibo Manqoba!’ campaign. The DOH has joined forces with government departments and leading health NGOs to roll out the Sibo Manqoba! campaign, which aims to raise awareness of tobacco and e-cigarette harms, encourage tobacco users to quit and prevent non-users from starting. “Sibo Manqoba means ‘we are winners’. We’re calling on South Africans to conquer tobacco and win the battle against the debilitating health impact tobacco has on our nation,” says Dr Tshimi Lynn Moeng-Mahlangu, Chief Director: Health Promotion, Nutrition, Oral Health in the Department of Health.
With a strong focus on the youth, Sibo Manqoba has launched with a national tobacco education mural competition, schools pledge and education days delivered in partnership with the Department of Environmental Health (DoEH) and Protect our Next organisations – the NCAS, the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HFSA) and the South African Tobacco Free Youth Forum (SATFYF).
The Sibo Manqoba Schools Mural Competition calls for teams of learners from Grade 5-7 in 30 selected schools to produce artwork in the form of murals or other creative pieces by the 30th April. The theme of each entry must focus on tobacco harm, why quitting tobacco makes you a winner, or how tobacco influences your school and community. Five finalist schools will be announced in May. All schools receive education packs and the winning school will be awarded R10,000 towards a nominated wishlist of needs.
The schools will further designate four student ambassadors and a lead educator for the project to represent the school as spokespeople and anti-tobacco youth advocates. Schools will document the project with pictures, videos and progress updates, showing all tools and resources used during the creation process.
“Through this hands-on creative process, we hope that learners, educators and even the broader communities will be engaged and educated about the risk of tobacco and nicotine products use, the benefits of quitting smoking and the importance of the new Tobacco Control Bill,” says Lynn Moeng. Children can in turn share the message with their families and communities. We have had a great response from participating schools and look forward to showcasing the results.”
Dr Sharon Nyatsanza, Deputy Director of the National Council Against Smoking, says that to be most effective, school-based programs must target young persons before they initiate tobacco use. “It is vital to reach younger children before they start smoking. More than 80% of smokers smoked their first cigarette in their teens, and most smokers wish they had never started. Second-hand smoke also increases the risk of many diseases for children, such as cancers, respiratory diseases and ear infections,” says Nyatsanza. If we can make children fully aware of the risks, they can be better prepared for peer pressure and temptation, as well as understanding their right to be in a smoke-free environment.”
Nyatsanza says research shows that many children and adolescents do not understand the nature of tobacco addiction and are unaware of, or underestimate, the important health consequences of tobacco use. “We believe school programs designed to prevent tobacco use could be one of the most effective strategies available to reduce tobacco use and can make a substantial contribution to the health of the next generation.”
For help to stop smoking, smokers can reach out to the National Council Against Smoking QUITLINE: 011 720 3145 or WhatsApp 072 766 4812
The Cancer Association of South Africa runs eKick Butt, a unique online smoking cessation programme https://www.ekickbutt.org.za/
Dr Tshimi Lynn Moeng-Mahlangu
Chief Director: Health Promotion, Nutrition, Oral Health
National Department of Health
National Department of Health: Health Promotion
Sharon Nyatsanza, PhD
National Council Against Smoking
Tel: 011 725 1514 / 079 666 1356
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Tel: 084 3510560