Still unregulated, e-cigarette products are patently marketed to South African children and easily accessible. In shopping malls, colourful e-cigarette kiosks are in plain sight. Sleek designs and thousands of youth-friendly flavours increase product appeal and create a perception that these products are safe, fuelling youth e-cigarette uptake.
Advertising, use of attractive flavours, influencers and point-of-sale marketing that appeals to youth are well-known tactics that have been employed by tobacco companies to attract a young market and find “replacement” smokers to maintain their market share and profits – creating another generation addicted to nicotine. While restrictions on these marketing avenues have been imposed on tobacco products, the introduction of e-cigarettes or vape products threatens to undo this progress, says Dr Sharon Nyatsanza, Deputy of the National Council against Smoking (NCAS).
Placing children at the centre of conversations on better regulation of these novel products is critical for public health, argue the Protect our Next partners, a coalition of South Africa’s leading health organisations including NCAS.
The South African government is not doing enough to stop tobacco industry interference with policy. This is revealed by the 2021 Tobacco Industry Interference Index Report (index) for South Africa launched today. The index is an annual review of how governments protect public health policies from tobacco industry influence. The index shows a decline in efforts to protect government policy and processes from tobacco industry influence. South Africa has deteriorated 6 points indicating increases in tobacco industry interference. The index also confirms calls for a tighter grip on tobacco company activities.
This World Tuberculosis Day, South Africa’s health organisations forming part of the Protect our Next initiative, including the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), the Heart and Stroke Foundation of SA and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) are calling on more people to reach out for help to stop smoking, and for the implementation of a stronger tobacco control policy to create an enabling environment for those who want to quit. The 21-Day #Quitforlove Quit Smoking challenge starts on World Tuberculosis Day 24 March – sign up at www.protectournext.co.za/quitforlove or via the @protectournext Facebook page. Dr Sharon Nyatsanza of the National Council Against Smoking provides insights on smoking and tuberculosis in South Africa.
The WHO Global Tuberculosis Report 2020 indicates that around 360 000 people fell ill with TB in South Africa in 2019. 62% of the 58,000 people who died, were HIV-positive. As tobacco use in people living with both TB and HIV increases the risk of death and worsens health outcomes, it is very concerning that over 30% of people living with these diseases use tobacco products, according to a study in the Nicotine and Tobacco Research Journal. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 24% of HIV-related deaths are attributable to smoking. A comprehensive response to the TB and HIV epidemics must include a strategy to reduce tobacco consumption.
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 in the spotlight
Stop smoking in the time of Coronavirus.
Smoking and lung disease
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