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World No Tobacco Day: Target Tobacco Use to Accelerate Development

Joint Press Release:

30 May 2017 – On World No Tobacco Day (31st May) this year, South Africa’s tobacco control organisations call on the National Department of Health to finalise amendments to the Tobacco Products Control Act as the country works towards reducing tobacco consumption to less than 10% of the population.

The amended act has been in the works for more than a year. Its’ amendment will have four main goals. It will force manufacturers to remove the branding on their cigarette packs and include graphic warnings on the front and back of the back. Secondly, it will ensure that the use of electronic cigarettes is regulated in the country. The third goal will is to introduce a 100% smoke-free policy indoors, and lastly, it will ban all tobacco product advertising at point of sales.

The National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) along with the Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research (ATIM) at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, as well as Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) collectively believe that the four mechanisms introduced in the bill are critical in achieving a reduction in smoking consumption.

“These are critical tool in reducing tobacco consumption. We are advocating for this mechanisms along with the increase in tobacco taxes. This is because Tobacco control is inexpensive but highly effective. A R1 increase in the price of a packet of cigarettes will generate an extra R1 billion in taxes for the country. This money could be used to fund tobacco control and health promotion campaigns, which are critical in reducing tobacco consumption. This in turn will aid the country’s ability to meet the sustainable development goals, says NCAS Executive Director Savera Kalideen.

Tobacco Consumption Hinders Development

Tobacco consumption hinders development. It increases health-care costs and decreases productivity. Close to 70% of deaths across the world are caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. These diseases have one major risk factor in common: tobacco use. Currently, 19% (7.2 million) of the South African population smokes, and about 44 000 people die each year from tobacco-related disease.

“Tobacco use in South Africa needs to be tackled. The use of any and all tobacco products. It is a threat to any person, regardless of gender, age, and race, cultural or educational background that causes over 18 types of cancer, and accounts for over 20% of cancer deaths worldwide. It remains the world’s most preventable cause of death. About 85% of lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking. The data from the National Cancer Registry (NCR) of South Africa 2012 stats indicates that there were 2557 reported cases of lungs cancer,” says Lorraine Govender, national advocacy officer at Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA).

At the end of last year, when leaders from governments across the world met and decided on the global development agenda by setting the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goal, reducing tobacco use was identified as one of the key mechanisms to achieve these goals. As part of this global agenda, the World No Tobacco Day campaign this year highlights the threat that tobacco use poses to development.

There is evidence that tobacco consumption contributes to inequality in South Africa. Poor smokers tend to spend a higher proportion of their income on tobacco products than the richer people, implying a greater opportunity cost. This is substantiated by research conducted by the Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research. Data collected by the centre through the HSRC’s 2016 Social Attitudes Survey of South Africa found that 2.3 million smokers live in households that receive child support grants.

According to Professor Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, close to R700 million of the money that is spent on cigarettes each month by these household members could therefore be from child support grants received.

“This is money that could be spent on children’s development and welfare. We know from the recent statistics released by the South African Demographic Health Survey that child stunting, which is sitting g at 27% is at its highest yet. Child stunting is an effect of under-nutrition, which speaks to poor socio-economic and health condition. But instead of spending it on children, it goes up in smoke,” said Ayo-Yusuf.

The good news is that there is a clear roadmap for effective action to combat this epidemic: the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

The convention specifies a comprehensive set of evidence-based, cost-effective, population-wide measures to tackle demand for and supply of tobacco, including measures for protecting people from exposure to smoke, creating smoke-free workplaces and bans on smoking in public places, and increasing the price of tobacco products through taxation.

The burden of tobacco is a development issue, and must be addressed to in order to ensure a sustainable future for South Africa. In particular, it would only be possible to achieve the global targets of reducing premature deaths from tobacco and achieving the 17 SDGs if government takes action now.

CANSA Speaks Out Against Tobacco Use

Lorraine Govender from the CANSA National Advocacy Team will be taking part in a media briefing regarding World No Tobacco Day, taking place in Rosebank from 10am on the 30th May 2017. On behalf of CANSA, she will be presenting on current statistics and the harms inflicted by tobacco. Other presentations will be from Department of Health and National Council Against Smoking.

View CANSA’s regional activities to create awareness and reduce cancer risk leading up to and on World No Tobacco Day…


Savera Kalideen, Executive Director: National Council Against Smoking
071 227 0939

Professor Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Director: Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research
083 443 1970

Lorraine Govender, National Advocacy Co-ordinator: CANSA
Email: FOR ATT: Lorraine Govender

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