Welcome to the #ProtectourNext Press Office.

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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. 

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In addition to the extreme cost to your health, smoking hits your wallet. As a student, as a mom, as a young worker, as someone who wants to save money and be healthy – cigarettes should not be a line item on your budget. If you need another reason to quit smoking, think about how much of your weekly income is going up in smoke. This July Savings Month, it’s time to kick the smoking habit and save your money and your health.

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As we mark World No Tobacco Day 2021, observed each year on May 31, the National Department of Health, the World Health Organisation (WHO), civil society organisations, medical and nursing associations in South Africa have spoken about what should be done to turn the tide on tobacco harm in South Africa. 

 

Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, recognised that the debate on tobacco use is gaining momentum and said that the Department of Health is moving on with the legislative process. “The country is currently battling to reduce COVID-19 deaths, and working hard to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 epidemic. The relationship between COVID-19 and smoking cannot be ignored as both affect the lungs.” 

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As we mark Human Rights Day in South Africa, we must consider how tobacco fundamentally violates our right to life, right to health, children’s rights, women’s rights, and our right to a healthy environment  - and what should be done to protect these rights. As partner organisations in the Protect our Next initiative, including the National Council of Smoking (NCAS), the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSFSA), we have been calling for the passing of The Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, a comprehensive piece of legislation that has been waiting to be passed since 2018. It’s time for our government to show leadership in the fight to protect our human rights. 

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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

   
Tamaryn Brown
Connect Media for Cart Agency
+27 (0) 84 3510560
tamaryn@connectmedia.co.za
tamaryn@cart.agency

Nirvana Kishoon 
Cart Agency
+27 (0) 82 823 3167
nirvana@cart.agency

 

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