Welcome to the #ProtectourNext Press Office.

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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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The National Council of Smoking (NCAS), together with #protectournext health organisation partners the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSFSA), have again called upon Minister Mboweni to impose a 100% tobacco tax increase, saying that there are compelling reasons to increase cigarette taxes from the current R17,40 to R34,80 (per pack of 20 cigarettes). 

 

“In the face of the devastating health and economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, tobacco taxes are an under-utilised way to improve the health of the people and to reduce the pressure on the public purse,” says Dr Sharon Nyatsanza of NCAS. “Cigarettes are still far too affordable, and small negligible increases will not change smoking behaviours that add to the burden of tobacco on our society.” 

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Health organisations partnering in the #protectournext initiative, a campaign focused on reducing tobacco harm in South Africa,  have welcomed the launch of the WHO year-long global Commit to Quit campaign leading up to World No Tobacco Day in May 2021.  Organisations including the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), CANSA, the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) and the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) have stressed the importance of quitting and permanent cessation, especially as South Africa is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases in wave two of the pandemic. 

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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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