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.
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.”
Tobacco control advocates and health organisations are reacting strongly to the damning report on BAT activities in Africa, British American Tobacco in South Africa: Any Means Necessary, published by global tobacco industry watchdog STOP. BAT activities are further exposed in an investigation by BBC Panorama: Dirty Secrets of the Cigarette Business. BAT, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, appears to have crossed the line of ethics and legality to keep people addicted to its products, stifling attempts to reduce tobacco use. According to the reports, BAT used potentially questionable payments to try to influence tobacco control policies and undermine competitors. The company allegedly paid varying amounts to politicians, journalists, competitors’ staff and more. Analysis of leaked industry documents and court affidavits suggests BAT was engaged in possibly illegal informant networks, state capture and the potential smuggling of its own products in Africa. As is to be expected, BAT has denied the charges.
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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Smoking and lung disease
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