Dr Sharon Nyatsanza – Deputy Director, National Council Against Smoking (NCAS)
On Tuesday, 31 May, countries around the world will mark World No Tobacco Day, which this year highlights the devastating effects of tobacco on our environment. The World Health Organisation’s theme for this year is “Tobacco: Threat to our environment.” While tobacco is a leading cause of death, illness and impoverishment, tobacco also endangers the environment. The campaign raises awareness among the public on the environmental impact of tobacco – from cultivation, production, distribution and waste. It gives tobacco users yet another reason to quit!
The National Council of Smoking (NCAS) welcomes the tax on e-cigarettes and lauds the Minister of Finance for stepping in to close the regulatory gap in this area that has existed for over 10 years. Children who start using e-cigarettes are at risk of addiction and are more likely to progress to smoking tobacco cigarettes. High taxes can prevent this, as raising the price can deter children from starting to use e-cigarettes. It also protects public health, as e-cigarettes are linked to serious health risks, including heart and lung diseases as well as a high risk of stroke. However, the paltry tax increase of R1.03 per pack of 20 cigarettes cannot be justified in either health or fiscal terms.
Comments from Dr Sharon Nyatsanza, Deputy Director, National Council Against Smoking (NCAS)
The National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) welcomes the fourth WHO global tobacco trends report published on Tuesday, which shows that smoking rates are falling globally. In the past 20 years global smoking rates have dropped from 32% to 22%. This is good news for public health, and it is a confirmation that strong tobacco control policies are effective. It also commendable that the African Region has the highest proportion of countries on track for a 30% reduction in smoking rates by 2025 (53% of countries). But, the report also makes it clear that the gains are not equal, but are closely linked to progress and efforts made by individual countries to end the tobacco epidemic. South Africa is not among the 25 Afro region countries on track to meet the reduction target of 30% by 2025.
This Saturday, 30 October, the Mamelodi community will march from Stanza Bopape Sports Complex to Matimba Library Hall as they pledge to #Switchofftobacco in Mams. Local community leaders, school principals and teams from the Department of Environmental Health (DoEH) are joining forces with Protect our Next, a partnership of South Africa’s health organisations, to collect tobacco litter en route, which local learners will use to create larger than life tobacco education murals at their schools.
The march will be followed by an event featuring community members, school principals, Protect our Next ambassadors, youth advocacy groups Youth with Passion, Ikamva Youth and the South African Tobacco Free Youth Forum (SATFYF), Pastor Pieter from the Royal Eagles Ministry at Silverton. Successful quitter Nicholas Mokena will share his quit story. The programme incorporates dance, music and theatre featuring local company 6N9 Production.
Protect Our Next
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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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