The ‘Big Tobacco, Tiny Targets South Africa 2023’ study, part of a global campaign that monitors marketing of tobacco and nicotine products (TNP) to young people, reveals alarming marketing strategies targeting children in South Africa and highlights the urgent need for the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill of 2022 to be passed. The study was presented today at an event at the Durban University of Technology.

Conducted by the South African Tobacco-Free Youth Forum (SATFYF), the research focused on 409 point-of-sales (POS) locations within a 300-meter radius of primary and secondary schools in six major South African cities: Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg, Pretoria, and Stellenbosch. The findings reveal that an overwhelming majority of observed POS sold cigarettes (92.2%), with 68.2% of these displays targeting the eye level of a child. 

E-cigarettes were the most popular emerging product sold and found in 24.9% of POS observed. Enticing flavours such as “Blueberry Ice”, “Cool Mint” and “Creamy Tobacco”, were prevalent. These flavours are known to be especially appealing to youth. Over half (68.2%) of POS sold flavoured cigarettes, while 37.7% sold snuff, 30.3% sold hookah, 18.6% sold cigars, 14.7% sold pipe tobacco, and 7.1% sold snus. Almost half (45.2%) of POS selling and advertising TNPs were spaza shops and small grocery shops.

“This detailed analysis suggests that vendors purposefully place tobacco products near candy and sweets, use back-lit product displays and sell single cigarettes and flavoured products targeted at youth,” says Lesego Mateme of SATFYF. “The sale of single stick cigarettes, available at 66.5% of the POS vendors, increases the affordability and accessibility of these harmful products for young people. Some POS display their products at levels where they can be reached and handled by potential buyers. This goes against the current tobacco control law in South Africa.”

Tobacco products from Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Tobacco were the most popular among products found at observed POS, available at 67.9% and 67.2% POS respectively. Products from British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International were found in 61.6% and 58.7% of observed POS near schools.

The study makes several recommendations aimed at limiting the accessibility and visibility of Tobacco and Nicotine Products (TNPs) to youth, notably banning their sale within a 300m radius of primary and secondary schools. To further help de-normalise TNPs, it is advised to ban their display at the point of sale (POS). In addition to this, a complete ban is proposed on advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of these products at POS. This includes emerging products such as oral nicotine pouches, HTPs, and e-cigarettes. SATFYF also advocates for the adoption of plain packaging and large pictorial health warnings to alert current users and potential users of the negative health effects linked with the use of TNPs, as well as a ban on the sale of single-stick cigarettes. 

Mateme underscores the importance of adopting a broad, multi-faceted approach towards this issue. “A comprehensive and collaborative strategy between government and civil society organizations is crucial for the development of community-based awareness programmes that focus on tobacco control measures,” he explains. “Putting these steps into action will distribute the responsibility of implementation and compliance between the government and pre-existing community structures, working towards a healthier society.”

The results of this study provide significant evidence of the strategic marketing tactics deployed by the tobacco industry to target children and young people, making tobacco use accessible, attractive, and normal. The passing of the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill is a crucial countermeasure to reduce youth access to harmful tobacco products and related marketing, Mateme explains. 

“To protect our children and young people from a lifelong addiction to tobacco and nicotine, urgent action is needed,” says Mateme. “The Tobacco Control Bill addresses the tobacco industry’s efforts to recruit young people to their harmful products by limiting the exposure of young people to the marketing of these products. The passing of this bill will serve as a crucial step in curbing the influence of the tobacco industry on our youth.”

Big Tobacco, Tiny Targets: SA study spotlights marketing strategies targeting youth

The ‘Big Tobacco, Tiny Targets South Africa 2023’ study, part of a global campaign that monitors marketing of tobacco and nicotine products (TNP) to young people, reveals alarming marketing strategies targeting children in South Africa and highlights the urgent need for the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill of 2022 to be passed. The study was presented today at an event at the Durban University of Technology.

Conducted by the South African Tobacco-Free Youth Forum (SATFYF), the research focused on 409 point-of-sales (POS) locations within a 300-meter radius of primary and secondary schools in six major South African cities: Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg, Pretoria, and Stellenbosch. The findings reveal that an overwhelming majority of observed POS sold cigarettes (92.2%), with 68.2% of these displays targeting the eye level of a child. 

E-cigarettes were the most popular emerging product sold and found in 24.9% of POS observed. Enticing flavours such as “Blueberry Ice”, “Cool Mint” and “Creamy Tobacco”, were prevalent. These flavours are known to be especially appealing to youth. Over half (68.2%) of POS sold flavoured cigarettes, while 37.7% sold snuff, 30.3% sold hookah, 18.6% sold cigars, 14.7% sold pipe tobacco, and 7.1% sold snus. Almost half (45.2%) of POS selling and advertising TNPs were spaza shops and small grocery shops.

“This detailed analysis suggests that vendors purposefully place tobacco products near candy and sweets, use back-lit product displays and sell single cigarettes and flavoured products targeted at youth,” says Lesego Mateme of SATFYF. “The sale of single stick cigarettes, available at 66.5% of the POS vendors, increases the affordability and accessibility of these harmful products for young people. Some POS display their products at levels where they can be reached and handled by potential buyers. This goes against the current tobacco control law in South Africa.”

Tobacco products from Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Tobacco were the most popular among products found at observed POS, available at 67.9% and 67.2% POS respectively. Products from British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International were found in 61.6% and 58.7% of observed POS near schools.

The study makes several recommendations aimed at limiting the accessibility and visibility of Tobacco and Nicotine Products (TNPs) to youth, notably banning their sale within a 300m radius of primary and secondary schools. To further help de-normalise TNPs, it is advised to ban their display at the point of sale (POS). In addition to this, a complete ban is proposed on advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of these products at POS. This includes emerging products such as oral nicotine pouches, HTPs, and e-cigarettes. SATFYF also advocates for the adoption of plain packaging and large pictorial health warnings to alert current users and potential users of the negative health effects linked with the use of TNPs, as well as a ban on the sale of single-stick cigarettes. 

Mateme underscores the importance of adopting a broad, multi-faceted approach towards this issue. “A comprehensive and collaborative strategy between government and civil society organizations is crucial for the development of community-based awareness programmes that focus on tobacco control measures,” he explains. “Putting these steps into action will distribute the responsibility of implementation and compliance between the government and pre-existing community structures, working towards a healthier society.”

The results of this study provide significant evidence of the strategic marketing tactics deployed by the tobacco industry to target children and young people, making tobacco use accessible, attractive, and normal. The passing of the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill is a crucial countermeasure to reduce youth access to harmful tobacco products and related marketing, Mateme explains. 

“To protect our children and young people from a lifelong addiction to tobacco and nicotine, urgent action is needed,” says Mateme. “The Tobacco Control Bill addresses the tobacco industry’s efforts to recruit young people to their harmful products by limiting the exposure of young people to the marketing of these products. The passing of this bill will serve as a crucial step in curbing the influence of the tobacco industry on our youth.”

Durban, 15 February 2024 – South Africa is faced with an alarming rise in the prevalence of e-cigarette and hookah use among university students, exacerbated by aggressive advertising and marketing. The concerning findings of a national study conducted by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)’s Mental Health, Alcohol, Substance Use and Tobacco Research Unit have shed light on the urgent need for regulatory measures to curb these trends. The study was presented today at an event at the Durban University of Technology.

The study investigated university students’ exposure to e-cigarette and hookah advertising and marketing around university campuses and at other venues, exploring the association between the prevalence of product use, the students’ knowledge, attitudes and perceptions, and their exposure to this marketing.

Findings from the study reveal that about 1 in 4 university students aged 18 to 24 years (about 26%) reported current use of e-cigarettes, while almost 40% reported ever use. Almost 1 in 3 students aged 18 to 24 years (about 32%) reported current hookah smoking, while about 47% reported ever use. Hookah smoking has been increasing in prevalence nationally in South Africa as growing trends of using these products at parties and in students residences have been reported.

The study indicates significant exposure to advertising and marketing of these products among young people. Overall, 77.8% were exposed to any advertisement, marketing, and promotion of e-cigarettes. The majority of the students noticed e-cigarette advertising in stores where e-cigarettes are sold (58.7%), closely followed by tobacco-selling stores (54.5%) and the internet or social media (54.2%).

When it comes to hookah, 69.8% were exposed to advertisement, marketing, and promotion, mostly in stores where it is sold (48.3%), or online through advertising and social media (47.3%). Many of the advertisement and marketing tactics reported by participants using hookah are illegal under the current law, the report highlights, while e-cigarette marketing has yet to be regulated in the country.

“The report reveals troubling statistics about students, a demographic group particularly vulnerable to marketing tactics,” says Dr. Catherine Egbe, Senior Specialist Scientist in the MASTRU at SAMRC. “We found that those exposed to any form of advertisement, marketing and promotion were almost three times more likely to be currently using e-cigarettes or hookah compared to those not exposed, while those who noticed e-cigarette promotions specifically were almost four times more likely to be currently using e-cigarettes.”

These findings underline the urgent need for regulatory measures, says Dr. Egbe. “Aggressive marketing tactics employed by the tobacco and nicotine industries target young impressionable minds, with products like e-cigarettes and hookah being falsely marketed as less harmful alternatives to conventional cigarettes, without information about any health effects that may be associated with the use of these products.”

For example, hookah, also known as hubbly bubbly, shisha or waterpipe, has become a popular and fashionable product among young people in South Africa. However, many young people do not know that hookah is a tobacco product and that it is supposed to be regulated by the existing tobacco control policies in South Africa, explains Egbe. Others believe that hookah is a less harmful tobacco product, because its smoke passes through water before being consumed when smoking.

Some of the participants held the belief that hookah use has health implications, with many basing their opinions on personal observations says Egbe. “Health effects mentioned included the addictiveness, headaches, respiratory issues, feeling dizzy and even fainting after having smoked hookah. Students gave personal accounts of the health consequences they have experienced from smoking hookah, include coughing, respiratory issues such as breathlessness, sinus issues, a dry throat, addiction, dizziness and lung issues.”

Recommendations based on the findings include enforcing the ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship for hookah, and urgently extending the ban to cover e-cigarettes by passing the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill. The study further recommends implementing graphic health warnings and plain packaging of hookah, e-cigarettes and cigarette products to communicate the health risks associated with use in an effective way. This may deter students from initiating use and encourage current users to quit, says Egbe. Furthermore, cessation and awareness programmes targeted at university students should be designed to provide information about the harmfulness of using hookah as well as e-cigarettes and support to aid quitting.

Dr. Egbe strongly advocates for the passing of the new Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill in South Africa. “This bill will regulate the advertising, marketing, and sale of tobacco and electronic delivery systems, including e-cigarettes and hookah, and introduce measures to raise public awareness of the health risks associated with these products. It’s a vital step to protect young people from the aggressive marketing and harmful effects of tobacco and nicotine products.”

“The passing of this bill is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of our young people,” Egbe concludes. “We must act now to help inform and protect a new generation from harm and nicotine addiction.”

Read the full report here: Prevalence of Use and Exposure of Young Adults to Electronic Cigarette and Hookah Advertisement and Marketing in South Africa | SAMRC

As we celebrate love and connections this Valentine’s Day, the best gift that you can give your loved ones is the gift of health. Today, let’s delve into a topic that’s close to the heart of Dr Sharon Nyatsanza, Deputy Director of the National Council Against Smoking, a member organisation of the Protect our Next initiative. 

Dr Nyatsanza is a vocal advocate against smoking, with a particular focus on the dangers of secondhand smoke. She highlights the risks non-smokers face when exposed to secondhand smoke. “Smoking doesn’t just affect the smoker. It also impacts those nearest to them – their partners, family, and children. Secondhand smoke can lead to a host of health issues in non-smokers, including heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. For children, the effects are even more severe, leading to respiratory infections, asthma attacks, and a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome.”

Secondhand smoke has a significant impact on women’s health, with numerous studies highlighting its damaging effects, explains Dr Nyatsanza. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure can hurt your reproductive health, such as causing complications during pregnancy. 

“Women exposed to secondhand smoke may experience lower mood, sleep disorders, and depression, indicating that it endangers mental health as well as physical health,” says Dr Nyatsanza. “Babies and young children whose mothers are exposed to secondhand smoke face their own set of risks. Because their bodies are still growing, they are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.”

Nyatsanza says the new Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, approved to go before parliament, offers hope for a healthier future for all South Africans. “One of the key provisions of the new bill is the regulation of 100% smoke-free spaces. This means that public places like restaurants, workplaces, and even certain outdoor areas will be free from clouds of secondhand smoke. Not only will this protect non-smokers, but it will also make it easier for those trying to quit smoking, by reducing their exposure to triggers.”

Smoking in enclosed common areas of multi-unit residences and other areas where it interferes with the enjoyment of people lawfully on the premises is prohibited by the new Bill, as is smoking in private dwellings used for any commercial childcare activities, child stay, schooling and tutoring. Smoking in places used for domestic employment or otherwise as a workplace is also prohibited. Smoking in a car when a child under 18 years old or a non-smoker is in the vehicle will be illegal.

Second-hand smoke is a major health risk, and the South Africa Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS-SA) shows just how many South Africans are exposed, says Dr Catherine Egbe, Specialist Scientist at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). “About one in ten people are exposed to second-hand smoke at work and nearly one in five people at home. Women are mostly exposed at home, while very few have the power to make their homes smoke-free.”

Egbe says an alarming 74.4% of people are exposed at bars, tavern, pubs, shebeens or night clubs, and 10.8% at restaurants. A concerningly high percentage of non-smokers are exposed at educational institutions, with 20% of people exposed in schools.

There is a strong awareness of the dangers of smoking among South Africans, with nine out of 10 South Africans believing that smoking or breathing other people’s smoke can cause serious illnesses. The majority support these smoke-free measures. You can pledge your support for the new Bill at www.protectournext.co.za.

“Let’s support the Tobacco Control Bill and embrace the changes it will bring as we strive for a smoke-free South Africa,” says Dr Nyatsanza. “Staying tobacco-free is not just a gift to your loved ones, but also to yourself. After all, a healthier you means more years of love, laughter, and shared moments with those you hold dear.”  

Nyatsanza says the National Council Against Smoking offers many resources to support your journey to a smoke-free life. From personalised quit plans to one-on-one counselling, they provide the tools to help you break free from nicotine addiction. “Tap into the support groups to increase your chances of quitting successfully. The time to liberate yourself from the shackles of smoking is today. Visit our website, call our Quitline at 011 720 3145 or reach out via WhatsApp on 072 766 4812 for immediate assistance.”

#QuitForLove #SmokeFreeValentine #ProtectOurNext

www.protectournext.co.za

Leaders from Protect our Next partner organisations are currently in Panama for the Tenth Conference of the Parties (COP10) under the banner of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) happening from February 5 – 10, 2024. These include the National Council Against Smoking, the South African Tobacco-Free Youth Forum, the Africa Centre For Tobacco Industry Monitoring And Policy Research (ATIM) and the convenor of Protect our Next, Zanele Mthembu. The conference brings together delegates from around the world to discuss and take action on various aspects related to tobacco control and the implementation of the FCTC.


COP10 is taking place at a crucial time for South Africa, where the new Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill has been approved to go before parliament and is currently undergoing a public consultation process, says Dr Sharon Nyatsanza, Deputy Director of NCAS. “South Africa ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005. The implementation of the new Bill will further align South Africa with its FCTC commitments, and should not be delayed any further.”


Nyatsanza has a clear message at COP10. “We urge Parties, especially those from Africa, to do right by their people and adopt decisions that will speed up the implementation of the FCTC. The goal is to achieve an Africa free from tobacco and its consequences. We must not let Africa be left behind.”

COP10 commenced with a powerful message from WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – “We must continue advocating for urgent and accelerated implementation of the WHO FCTC. We must continue to be on our guard against the tobacco industry and its tactics.”

Dr Adriana Blanco Marquizo, Head of the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), highlighted the slow implementation of the Convention, new and emerging nicotine and tobacco products, and the persistent interference by the tobacco industry as major challenges to address. She says that while measures that are 100% in the hands of the Ministries of Health, such as smoke-free environments and graphic health warnings, can be implemented by executive decree – in many cases, they have not. “Remember that we are here to protect people from an industry that profits from suffering and death –  and in the end, it’s truth and what’s right that will prevail.”


The conference offers a platform for discussing the progress of the FCTC, particularly in normalising smoke-free policies worldwide, banning tobacco advertising, and introducing health warnings on tobacco products. The agenda includes critical items such as the adoption of specific guidelines to protect the public from tobacco advertising (Article 13) and the consideration of forward-looking measures for advanced countries in tobacco control (Article 2.1). One of the key agenda items at COP10 is on preventing tobacco industry interference in environmental solutions. This highlights the need for stringent measures to ensure that the tobacco industry does not hinder global efforts to promote sustainability and protect the environment.


Nyatsanza says COP10 also presents an opportunity to hold the tobacco industry accountable and liable for the health, societal, and environmental harms it causes. Enhancing liability measures against tobacco companies is on the agenda. “We urge Parties to make pronouncements that will pave the way to recover the costs of healthcare and environmental damage borne by the government.


The international trade in illicit tobacco is another critical issue to be addressed at the conference. The governing body of the protocol is expected to deliberate on this matter, promoting greater cooperation and action to combat the illicit tobacco trade.


Prof. Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Director of NCAS, Head of the School of Health Systems and Public Health at the University of Pretoria and director of ATIM, says the conference serves as an opportunity to reflect on the overall progress and effectiveness of the WHO FCTC and discuss future directions for the Convention. “We look forward to important discussions focused on action and effective implementation of FCTC measures, in the face of intensifying efforts of the tobacco industry to undermine these measures and our collective health.”


Lesego Mateme of SATFYF represents a youth voice at COP10, saying that the conference marks a crucial moment where youth concerns can be heard and acted upon by global leaders. “We are very concerned about the harms of emerging tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. The industry inaccurately positions them as ‘harm reduction’ measures, luring a new generation into addiction. Emerging tobacco products should be viewed as threats to our generation. Parties to the COP10 must act decisively, prioritise our future, and stand firm against the tobacco industry’s deceptive manoeuvres.”


The NCAS team is looking forward to fruitful discussions on emerging products. “Undeniably, urgent and decisive action must be taken. In January 2024, the UK announced its intention to ban disposable e-cigarettes to protect children. South Africa too must act – it must expedite the processing of the Bill if it is serious about protecting children and the youth. Parties should guard against tobacco and e-cigarette industry interference, particularly on this topic. They must seize the opportunity presented by these global tobacco control talks to protect present and future generations from all forms of nicotine.”


The WHO FCTC is a powerful tool that Parties to the treaty can use to uphold human rights, particularly the right to health, says Zanele Mthembu, a Public Health Policy and Development Consultant and the Convenor for Protect our Next. “COP meetings have a long history of taking a human rights approach to tobacco control. By making progress on implementing the FCTC, countries like South Africa are also advancing towards human rights responsibilities and sustainable development goals. COP10 is vital to show how governments, inter-governmental organisations, and civil society can work together to solve challenges and uphold human rights.”

Lesego Mateme from Protect our Next partner organisation the South African Tobacco-Free Youth Forum (SATFYF) is in Panama for the Tenth Conference of the Parties (COP10) under the banner of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) from February 5 – 10, 2024. He is a co-author of the COP10 message below.

As global youth advocates and representatives of the Global Youth Voices (GYV), a movement of over 30 global, regional, and local youth organizations covering more than 130 countries, we find it humbling to see our calls recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and to learn that our statement will be brought to the Tenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Panama. This conference marks a crucial moment where our concerns can be heard and acted upon by global leaders.

 

For a long time, our collective voice echoed shared concerns regarding the pervasive tactics employed by the tobacco industry. The industry has been enticing our generation with so-called “innovations” like biodegradable filters as well as flavored vaping and tobacco products. These strategies have been widely and maliciously propagated through digital and entertainment media, including sports advertising. More so, the tobacco industry downplays the harms of these emerging tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, mislabeling them as “harm reduction” strategies. This deceptive tactic has lured a whole new generation into a lifelong addiction, exposing us to irreversible harm.

 

Our organizations have been building their capacity with the help of Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control resources and support since 2020, which proved instrumental in navigating towards a future that is free from tobacco industry interference. We have gone beyond merely demanding regulations and embarked on a path to secure justice for ourselves and for the next generation. The power to demand impactful solutions to curb industry manipulation is the wind beneath our wings throughout this impactful movement.

We are calling on the industry to stop its deception and manipulation, and to disassociate from misleading terms like “harm reduction,” “wellness,” “sustainability,” and “producer responsibility.” We demand the industry to bear full financial responsibility for the myriad of harms it inflicts, including the environmental damage caused by cigarette butts. We demand specific solutions to hold the tobacco industry accountable, including compensation mechanisms, financial guarantees, and various penalties, fees, or taxes.

 

As the COP10 progresses in Panama, we reiterate our key calls to the Parties and delegates:

Being the target of the tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing tactics, we fervently advocate for comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship (TAPS) across all media, including digital platforms.

Emerging tobacco products should be viewed as threats to our generation. We advocate for a ban on all recreational addictive products, or where bans are proven ineffective, we support robust regulatory measures.

Forward-looking tobacco control measures should be protected against industry interference and deception, including an immediate ban on cigarette filters and disposable vapes.

Implementation of liability measures should be strengthened; the present and future generations should be able to hold the tobacco industry accountable for past, present, and future harms, including financial consequences through levies, compensation mechanisms, and effective sanctions.

 

Parties to the COP10 must act decisively, prioritize our future, and stand firm against the tobacco industry’s deceptive manoeuvres. Together, let us shape a future where the -being of our global youth takes precedence over the tobacco industry’s commercial and vested interests.

The Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill is currently undergoing a provincial public consultation period and has sparked widespread discussion in five provinces to date. The  Cape Provinces and Kwa-Zulu Natal are next, starting with the Eastern Cape this weekend on 26-28 January.  This crucial step in the legislative process provides an opportunity for citizens to scrutinise the bill, voice their support or query any points of concern.   “These hearings present a vital opportunity for citizens to air their views and also to learn more about the Bill and what it means for public health and sustainable development in their communities,” says Dr Sharon Nyatsanza of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS).

Experts from South Africa’s leading health organisations, united through the Protect our Next initiative, say widespread support has been voiced for the key measures in the bill at the hearings to date. These measures include creating smoke-free public spaces, banning vending machines, more stringent regulation on point-of-sale advertising and regulating electronic delivery systems such as e-cigarettes for the first time.  

However, some queries are frequently raised, particularly around the sale of single cigarettes and economic impacts, the powers given to the Minister in the regulations, how the Bill will be effectively enforced, the costs to taxpayers, and what resources will be available to support quitters. Citizens also have specific queries around online sales, channels for complaints, and marijuana legislation.  Experts from Protect our Next provide clarification for these frequently asked questions below.  

Sale of single cigarettes

“Concerns are being voiced over whether the Bill will impose stricter regulations on the sale of individual cigarettes, and how this will impact hawkers and small businesses,” says Dr. Sharon Nyatsanza of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS). “Under this proposed legislation, the sale of single cigarettes will be prohibited. The aim is to prevent impulsive purchases and to make smoking less accessible, particularly for young people. It is a vital step to curtail underage smoking and smoking rates overall.”

Minister’s role in regulations

The Minister of Health will have significant powers in setting regulations pertaining to flavours, packaging, and smoke-free areas. “The purpose of these regulations will be to make tobacco products less appealing, particularly to younger consumers, and to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke,” says Lorraine Govender of CANSA. “The regulations will be published for public comments and enable the Minister to implement the law.” 

Support for quitting smoking

The government will need to increase support for cessation aids and ways to quit smoking, says Dr Nyatsanza. This includes improvements to health services, improving access to cessation aids, and launching public education campaigns.  Those seeking help to quit smoking can call the National Quitline at  +27 11 720 3145 or WhatsApp on +27 72 766 4812 for assistance.

Online sale of tobacco products

Selling tobacco products online will be regulated under the new Bill. Selling online is not criminalised, but it does require adherence to strict guidelines. Enforcement will be carried out by relevant government agencies and will include monitoring online activity, says Nyatsanza. 

Marijuana legislation

There has been some confusion regarding marijuana in relation to this Bill. “To clarify, marijuana is not covered by this Bill. It falls under a separate piece of legislation,” says Nyatsanza.

Lodging complaints about smoking

Nyatsanza says citizens can lodge complaints about smoking to their local health department or to the National Council Against Smoking. “We receive many complaints about smoking, for example where secondhand smoke is affecting others in a complex. The Bill is important, as it provides clear legal guidelines and regulates this exposure to secondhand smoke more stringently.” 

Implementation and enforcement of the Bill

The Bill will be implemented and enforced through a combination of governmental agencies and law enforcement. More specific details will be finalised once the Bill is passed into law, but the emphasis will be on effective, fair, and consistent enforcement, says Zanele Mthembu, convenor of Protect our Next. 

The cost of implementation and taxpayer money

Although implementation may require some funding,  it’s important to note that the cost to taxpayers will be substantially less than the cost of treating tobacco-related illnesses, says Mthembu.  The cost to the economy of tobacco-related illness, death and lost productivity is in the region of R42 billion per year. 

Impact on illicit trade

While concerns that measures in the Bill could potentially drive more illicit trade are frequently raised by the tobacco industry,  this is a criminal issue that the government is committed to addressing, working closely with law enforcement and customs agencies to detect and prevent illegal activities related to tobacco products, says Prof Ayo-Yusuf. “The tobacco industry has been accused of complicity in large-scale illicit trading. While it is a major criminal concern, the tobacco industry uses the over-exaggeration of illicit trade problem to manipulate public opinion and to oppose further increases in tobacco excise tax. Ultimately, we need strong tobacco control measures, increased taxes and a focus on addressing illicit trade.”

Concerns on job losses and the impact on the tobacco industry

Concerns were expressed about job losses and the impact on the tobacco-growing industry. Small business owners raised their concerns about loss in business revenues. Prof Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Director of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) and Head of the School of Health Systems and Public Health at the University of Pretoria, says the evidence across multiple studies is clear: not only does stronger tobacco control legislation not harm the economy or cause job losses, it could actually stimulate job creation in other sectors, generate government revenues, and reduce the economic costs associated with tobacco use. 

“Studies show that a decrease in spending on tobacco is usually associated with an increase in expenditure on other goods and services in the economy, creating jobs in these sectors,” says Ayo-Yusuf. “If people stop smoking, the revenue from excise taxes on tobacco and related products doesn’t disappear, people spend the money on other things instead. This could then help other industries grow, creating healthier jobs and a more sustainable economy. It’s high time we challenged the misleading narrative pushed by the tobacco industry and embraced policies that promote both public health and economic prosperity.  Remember, a sick nation is a poor nation.”

The queries show the public’s deep interest in understanding the future landscape of tobacco and electronic delivery system usage in the country, says Nyatsanza. However, she highlights that there is considerable tobacco industry interference as the organisations work to protect their profits.  “Many misconceptions are being spread about the Bill. The tobacco industry is defending its business at the expense of public health and finances. It’s time for us to ensure stronger tobacco control policies to reduce tobacco consumption and curb this harm. We strongly encourage all citizens to attend their local public hearings and show their support for the Bill.”

For more information and to pledge your support, visit www.protectournext.co.za

As we enjoy the warmth of another glorious summer, it’s time to take stock of our choices and prioritise our health. The summer season brings with it an opportunity to embrace healthier habits and lifestyles, and what better way to celebrate than to commit to a tobacco-free summer?

Say yes to smoke-free destinations

This summer, let’s make a conscious decision to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the harmful effects of tobacco. Whether you’re planning a beach getaway, a family picnic, or simply enjoying the great outdoors, choose destinations that are 100 percent smoke-free. By doing so, you’re not just ensuring a healthier environment for yourself and your loved ones, but also contributing to a wider movement for a smoke-free South Africa.

Reject secondhand smoke and fruity vapes

The allure of vapes can be deceptive. Don’t let the sleek packaging and enticing flavours fool you—these products are not without risk and nicotine is highly addictive. Likewise, secondhand smoke poses a significant health hazard, even to non-smokers. This summer, let’s say no to secondhand smoke and fruity vapes, and yes to real summer flavours—fresh fruits, refreshing beverages, and healthy, delicious meals enjoyed in the company of friends and family.

Support the Tobacco Control Bill

The Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill, currently being discussed in national public consultations, represents a crucial step towards making South Africa tobacco-free. The new bill enforces an absolute prohibition on smoking or vaping in indoor, and certain outdoor public places. This includes previously partially-exempted areas, such as restaurants, bars, and workplaces, effectively creating a 100 percent smoke-free environment.

The bill addresses the marketing and advertising of tobacco and electronic delivery systems, proposing a complete advertising ban, including at point-of-sale. Retailers would not be allowed to display any of these products and can only make them available upon request from a person over the age of 18, and they will not be sold in vending machines. The bill also introduces new plain packaging and labelling rules. All tobacco products and electronic delivery systems should carry graphic health warnings.

The bill recognises the risks of electronic delivery systems, including e-cigarettes and vapes. It aims to regulate these products in the same vein as traditional tobacco products, debunking the misconception that these products are harmless.

By supporting this bill, we can help ensure a healthier future for all South Africans. It’s about more than just individual choices—it’s about creating a society where everyone can breathe easy, free from the harm caused by tobacco and related products.

Switch on summer with #SwitchoffTobacco

This summer, we invite you to join us in our #SwitchoffTobacco campaign. Let’s celebrate the season by embracing healthier choices, protecting our loved ones, and supporting efforts to make South Africa tobacco-free. After all, there’s no better time than now to turn a new leaf.

Remember, summer is all about freedom—the freedom to enjoy life, to make healthy choices, and to protect our health and the health of those we care about. So let’s switch on summer and #SwitchoffTobacco. Here’s to a tobacco-free summer and a healthier, happier South Africa!

For more information about the Tobacco Control Bill and our #SwitchOffTobacco campaign, visit our website at www.protectournext.co.za. Stay cool, stay healthy, and stay smoke-free this summer!

Need help to quit smoking?

If you or someone you know is trying to quit smoking, professional help is available. The National Council Against Smoking offers a Quitline where you can get advice and support. Reach out to the Quitline by calling 011 720 3145, or alternatively, get in touch through their WhatsApp line on 072 766 4812. Remember, it’s never too late to quit. Let’s make the most of this summer by making healthier choices and living tobacco-free.

The public consultation process on the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill is coming to Gauteng this week-end – 24-26 Oct.
These hearings present a vital opportunity for citizens to air their views and also to learn more about the Bill and what it means for public health and sustainable development in their communities. It’s important to show support for the Bill so that we can get this legislation passed!

It’s YOUR community, it’s YOUR voice. 
Say Yes! to the Tobacco Control Bill. 

GAUTENG VENUES:

Lesedi Local Municipality in Heidelberg, Heidelberg Town Hall – 24 November 14:30 – 19:30

West Rand Region, Westonaria Banquet Hall – 25 November, 10:00 – 15:00

Tshwane Region, Tshwane House Council Chamber (Pretoria Central) – 26 November, 10:00 – 15:00

North West Province, Limpopo, Mpumulanga and Free State are complete, with Gauteng, KZN and
the Cape provinces
next.

See schedule here: https://protectournext.co.za/tc-bill-public-consultations/

LEARN MORE: FIVE MEASURES IN THE TOBACCO CONTROL BILL – AND WHY WE NEED THEM

South Africa has reached a midway point in the national Public Consultation process on the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill hosted by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health. Hearings conducted to date have reflected strong support for the proposed new tobacco control legislation, in the face of ongoing tobacco industry manipulation.  At the same time, the South Africa Tobacco Interference Index has just been published. It shows a worrying increase in tobacco industry influence, with South Africa’s score dropping by three points since 2021.

The first Global Adult Tobacco Survey conducted in South Africa (GATS-SA) conducted by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) in 2021 shows high levels of tobacco use (29.4%) and second hand smoke exposure in South Africa.  The research further shows strong public support for regulations, with nine out of ten adults supporting a ban on smoking in indoor workplaces and public places. Survey lead investigator and specialist scientist within the SAMRC’s Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit, Dr Catherine Egbe says, “A sick nation is a poor nation. Our communities want freedom from tobacco and the damage it causes to our health, our environment and our economy. The Bill includes carefully designed measures to achieve this and we need it to be urgently passed into law so we can move towards a tobacco-free, healthy nation.”

The Bill prohibits smoking and the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public areas, such as restaurants, and will make certain outdoor public places 100% smoke-free too, ensuring South Africans are free from exposure to second-hand smoke. It will remove smoking areas on public conveyances and apply the 100% smoking ban to common areas of multi-unit residences. It further prohibits smoking and the use of electronic cigarettes in private dwellings used for commercial child care or education, and in cars carrying children under 18, rather than under 12 as is currently the case.

“Freedom from tobacco use means so many things – freedom to breathe, to be healthy, to live longer lives.  It frees our loved ones and communities from toxic second-hand smoke. It also gives hungry communities the freedom to spend more money on food, rather than tobacco,” says Sanele Zulu, Convenor of the South African Tobacco-Free Youth Forum (SATFYF). “Our young people need to make the right choices, but they also deserve better protection from the targeted marketing of tobacco and e-cigarette companies. The new Bill provides this protection.”

The Bill introduces uniform plain packaging for all brands and pictorial warnings on all packages. Advertising of tobacco products, heated tobacco and electronic cigarettes at points of sale (tills) and the sale of cigarettes through vending machines will be prohibited. 

Electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems will also be regulated through the Bill. “Through implementing the cost-effective, proven measures in the Bill, which apply to both tobacco products and e-cigarettes, we can help free our youth from addiction to nicotine,” says Zulu.

For those who already smoke or use e-cigarettes, Nyatsanza recommends accessing support to quit. “If you need to free yourself from tobacco and nicotine addiction, now is a great time to start!” says Nyatsanza. “Research shows if you can make it to 28 days without smoking, you’re five times more likely to quit for good.” NCAS offers  a 30-day support system delivered through WhatsApp 072 766 4812.  Quitters can also call the National Quitline on 011 720 3145, which is printed on every cigarette package.

Lorraine Govender, National Manager of Health Promotion for the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), says the new Bill will help free South Africa from the burden of non-communicable diseases caused by tobacco, including cancer. “We have long campaigned for better measures that can free South Africa from the crippling impact of non-communicable diseases, which are currently responsible for the deaths of 50,9% of South Africans. Tobacco use is a major risk factor and is currently estimated to cost South Africa R42-billion per year in treating illnesses and loss of productivity. We must take action to free our economy from further strain and we look forward to stronger legislation that will better protect our rights to freedom and health.”

Show your support for a tobacco-free and nicotine-free South Africa by attending a public hearing near you and visiting www.protectournext.co.za to pledging your support for the Bill.

Johannesburg, South Africa, 17 Nov 2023 – A new report reveals that the South African government has failed to adequately guard against interference from the tobacco industry in policy-making, as stipulated under Article 5.3 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). The 2023 Tobacco Industry Interference Index Report for South Africa indicates a worrying increase in tobacco industry influence, with the country’s score dropping by three points since 2021. The report was launched by the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) in Pretoria on Thursday.

Dr Sharon Nyatsanza, Deputy Director of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), says, “The bottom line for tobacco companies is profit. Unfortunately, these profits often come at the expense of human lives. To maintain their revenue streams, these companies need more people addicted to nicotine and more individuals continuing to smoke.”

The annual review of the index evaluates how effectively governments are safeguarding public health policies from the influence of tobacco companies. Key findings of the report indicate that:

“The tobacco industry remains the greatest barrier to implementing effective tobacco control policies,” Dr. Nyatsanza adds. “Without strong action from the government, the industry will continue to use its economic power to challenge, delay, and dilute efforts aimed at reducing tobacco consumption.”

The report recommends fast-tracking the new Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill [B33-2022], banning all forms of contributions from the tobacco industry, developing a comprehensive awareness campaign for government officials on tobacco industry interference tactics, and ensuring transparency in all interactions between the tobacco industry and the government.

These measures are fully supported by the members of Protect our Next, including South Africa’s leading healthcare and community Non-Profit organisations which play a crucial role in this battle against tobacco industry interference. Partners include NCAS, the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA), the South African Tobacco Free Youth Forum (SATFYF) and The Africa Centre For Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research (ATIM). “Our mission aligns with the objectives laid out in the report,” says Nyatsanza. “Protect our Next aims to foster a tobacco-free generation by actively campaigning against tobacco industry marketing tactics, and advocating for robust tobacco control policies including passing the Tobacco Control Bill.”

Dr. Nyatsanza concludes, “The responsibility to protect citizens from tobacco industry interference lies with the entire government, not just a single department.”

The S.A Tobacco Industry Interference Index is available HERE.

The next public hearings on the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill will be hosted by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health in the Free State on the 28-29 October. 
Citizens are invited to share their views and support is vital at this critical phase. These hearings present a vital opportunity for citizens to air their views and also to learn more about the Bill and what it means for public health and sustainable development in their communities.

DATEDISTRICT/ LOCAL MUNICIPALITYVenue TIME
Saturday, 28th October 2023Kroonstad in Moqhako  Local Municipality  Allen Rautenbach Hall 10:00 – 15:00
Sunday,29th October 2023Bloemfontein in Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality   Leslie Monnanyane Hall  10:00 – 15:00

Protect Our Next is a community-based initiative representing leading health and community NGOs.
We have been united in educating communities around the dangers of tobacco products for over five years. While the Tobacco Industry has been flooding communities with products that kill, we have been championing the health of our nation through schools and community education programmes and developing community ambassadors.

As the public hearings for the Tobacco Control Bill continue, we are encouraging local community participation at hearings to ensure that YOUR voices are heard!
Our community engagements and partnerships empower a better and healthier South Africa.  
Keep an eye on Facebook @protectournext for our community activations.

#protectournext #TobaccoFreeSouthAfrica #switchoffTobacco

This release appears on the Parliament website here.
 https://www.parliament.gov.za/press-releases/media-statement-hope-gain-more-benefits-tobacco-bill-attracts-majority-support-bill-mbombela


The majority of residents of greater Mbombela Local Municipality have indicated to the Portfolio Committee on Health that the socio-economic benefits that are currently derived from the tobacco industry, will be exceeded by the benefits that will be gained from the regulated production, sale and consumption of tobacco and electronic delivery products. The committee concluded the first of three public hearings yesterday in Mpumalanga province.

A potential in the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill (B33-2022) to improve the health levels of South Africans was identified by most participants and their support for the Bill hinged on that potential. Furthermore, they said that guaranteed sustainable productivity levels would depend on a healthy nation. A strong view was expressed that the Bill is long-overdue and its implementation must be fast-tracked.

The potential of the Bill to reduce consumption of tobacco products especially among leaners was also highlighted as a factor that attracted support for the Bill. Some parents said that many social problems they faced with teachers in schools arose from consumption of tobacco products, and to them regulations proposed by the Bill will go a long way in addressing those social problems. Some of them argued that smoking of tobacco products marked the beginning of the abuse of substances such as drugs.

Former smokers also welcomed the ban of display of tobacco products where these products are sold. They were of the view that it will reduce compulsive buying and consumption of tobacco products. Some participants also called for the use of all 11 official languages for health warnings and other information that must be displayed on the packaging of tobacco products as proposed by clause 4 of the Bill.

There was significant support for clause 2 of the Bill that proposes the designation of smoke free zones. Participants supporting this clause highlighted the benefits in protecting non-smokers, children, and pregnant women. Also, participants welcomed the ban of sale of tobacco products through vending machines as this will prevent children from accessing these products.

Some participants argued that concerns that the Bill will have a harmful effect on downstream industries such as farmers and advertising industry was a myth aimed at discouraging the government from implementing the Bill. They argued that the Bill is not a ban on the industry but it provides the necessary regulation needed to ensure reduced consumption of tobacco products. Furthermore, they argued that the ban on advertising of tobacco products has been in place for a long time and the Bill is intended to address identified shortcomings.

Some participants welcomed the regulation of electronic delivery systems as proposed by the Bill as this will also ensure that the consumers are aware of the harmful contents of those products.

Despite the popular support of the Bill, there was a sizable number of participants who rejected the Bill due to the potential negative economic impact the regulations might have on the tobacco industry. They argued that the regulations will inadvertently lead to the growth of the illicit cigarette trade. This, according to them, will reduce the opportunity of raising much-needed tax contribution from the tobacco industry.

There was also a concern from informal traders that the Bill will criminalise them and force them to close their small businesses which were currently their only source of income. Some of them argued that the implementation of the Bill will lead to the loss of around 29000 jobs at a time when the rate of unemployment in the country is rising high. The representatives of associations of farmers argued that they noted, in anticipation of the negative impact of the Bill, closure of tobacco farms.

The committee appreciated the huge turnout and the quality of inputs made by participants and assured them that it will give due consideration to the submissions made. The second leg of the Mpumalanga hearings will be held at the Gert Sibande District Municipality’s Mayors parlour in Ermelo.

The Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill (B33-2022) seeks to strengthen public health protection measures, align South African tobacco control law with the World Health Organisation Framework Convention and repeal the Tobacco Control Act, 1993 (Act No. 83 of 1993). The proposed legislative and policy changes seek to introduce the following:

  1. indoor public places and certain outdoor areas that will be designated 100 per cent smoke-free;
  2. a ban on the sale of cigarettes through vending machines;
  3. plain packaging with graphic health warnings and pictorials;
  4. a ban on display at point-of-sale; and
  5. the regulation and control of electronic nicotine delivery systems and non-nicotine delivery systems.

The next public hearings on the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill will be hosted by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health in Mpumalanga from the 20th to the 22nd October. Citizens are invited to share their views and support is vital at this critical phase.


Friday, 20 October 2023 – Mbombela Local Municipality in Nelspruit, 10:00 – 15:00
Saturday, 21 October 2023 – Musakaligwa Local Municipality in Ermelo, 10:00 – 15:00
Sunday, 22 October 2023 – Emalahleni Local Municipality in Witbank, 10:00 – 15:00


LEARN MORE: FIVE MEASURES IN THE TOBACCO CONTROL BILL – AND WHY WE NEED THEM

Hearings conducted to date in Limpopo and North West Province have reflected strong support for the proposed new tobacco control legislation in the face of ongoing tobacco industry manipulation. Protect our Next partner organisations, representing diverse public health and research expertise, have attended all the hearings and warn of persistent distortions of the facts, fuelled by the tobacco and e-cigarette industry’s efforts to block the bill to protect their profits at the expense of public health.


“While it is heartening to see strong support, it is apparent that misrepresentation of the facts, scare tactics and in some cases, blatant untruths continue to infiltrate public discourse on the Bill,” says Zanele Mthembu, public health policy and development consultant and the convenor of Protect our Next. “These hearings present a vital opportunity for citizens to air their views and also to learn more about the Bill and what it means for public health and sustainable development in their communities. We need to ensure that discussions are based on evidence and facts, not misconceptions and scare tactics perpetrated by an industry that puts profit before people’s health. This also highlights the critical need to educate the public on the harmful nature of tobacco and e-cigarette products, including tactics employed by the industries to oppose public health policies.”

The 2021 Global Adult Tobacco Survey for South Africa (GATS-SA) reveals that 12.7 million people (29.4% of the population) use tobacco, the highest rate among African countries which have conducted a similar survey, says Dr Catherine Egbe, lead investigator of GATS-SA and Specialist Scientist at the Mental health, Alcohol, Substance use and Tobacco Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council. Dr Egbe says that the legislation is designed to reduce tobacco and e-cigarette consumption, protecting public health and especially the next generations of South Africans, which is being heavily targeted by the industry.


“To defend its interests, the tobacco industry strategy is to pit communities against the government with
claims about a complete ban on e-cigarettes and tobacco products, harsh penalties including imprisoning
smokers, an increase in illicit trade and job losses,” says Kgomotso Kali, Project Lead at the Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research (ATIM), at the University of Pretoria. “These are the only arguments they have, and are either inaccurate or over-exaggerated and unsubstantiated. In fact, the tobacco industry’s products impose massive healthcare costs, cause premature death and suffering, drain household and government finances and harm our environment. It’s time for us to ensure stronger tobacco control policies to reduce tobacco consumption and curb this harm.”


Economic impact
At the hearings, supporters of the Bill, such as Dr Bulela Vava of the Public Oral Health Forum, underscored the financial strain that smoking-related illnesses put on the healthcare system. They pointed out that tax revenues from the tobacco industry, estimated at about R13 billion, are far outweighed by the R42 billion (about 1% of the GDP) spent by the Department of Health on treating tobacco-induced illnesses, including costs related to premature deaths and lost productivity. Supporters argued that the provisions of the bill will reduce the burden of treating tobacco-related diseases on the healthcare system.

In the farming community of Limpopo, concerns were expressed about job losses and the impact on the tobacco-growing industry. Small business owners raised their concerns about loss in business revenues.
“However, these concerns were not substantiated, confirming the fear-mongering perpetuated by the tobacco industry in an attempt to block the Bill,” says Mthembu. “This is another example of how the tobacco industry advances its interests by exploiting innocent people.”


Prof Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Director of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) and Head of the School of Health Systems and Public Health at the University of Pretoria, points out that as observed in South Africa in the past and in other countries that have passed similar laws, the tobacco and e-cigarette industries often exaggerate the negative economic and employment impacts of tobacco control and tax policies to oppose any regulations that might reduce their sales and profits. However, studies show that a decrease in tobacco expenditure is usually associated with an increase in expenditure on other goods and services in the economy, creating jobs in these sectors. “The industry mostly passes on the increased taxes to the consumers, hence any increase in price does not directly impact their profits, as reflected in dividends consistently paid out to their shareholders year after year. If people stop smoking, the revenue from excise taxes on tobacco and related products doesn’t disappear, they spend it on other things instead. This could then help other industries grow and create healthier jobs and a more sustainable economy.”


Tobacconomics research reports suggest that tobacco control policies, including tobacco tax, have either no effect or a net-positive effect on overall employment, particularly in net-importing countries. The number of jobs dependent on tobacco has been decreasing in most countries, mainly due to advancements in farming and manufacturing processes to maximise profit for shareholders, rather than the impact of tobacco control laws or increases in taxation.


While illicit cigarette trading remains a challenge in South Africa, it is not an intractable challenge, as the
tobacco industry has been accused of complicity in large-scale illicit trading, says Ayo-Yusuf. “Industry have also recently been misrepresenting the extent of illicit trade as being 70% of the market nationally, when in fact their own commissioned research shows that the overall proportion of stores found with illicit cigarettes had fallen to about 34% as at March 2022. The tobacco industry seems to have used the over-exaggeration of illicit trade problem to manipulate public opinion and to oppose further increases in tobacco excise tax.”


Support for smoke-free spaces
Citizens showed strong support for smoke-free zones, a key proposal within the bill, emphasising this will
better protect non-smokers from the dangers of second-hand smoke inhalation. This is aligned with the results of GATS-SA, says Dr Catherine Egbe. “While industry would have us believe otherwise, it’s clear that citizens overwhelmingly support the bill, with nine out of ten people agreeing with a ban on smoking in indoor and certain outdoor public places. Results also show that nine out of ten South Africans also understand that breathing other people’s smoke can cause serious illnesses in non-smokers.”

Introducing plain packaging
The Bill further includes clauses that empower the Minister to regulate the manufacturing, testing, packaging, labelling of tobacco products and electronic delivery systems. Standardised packaging for tobacco and non-tobacco-based products, another provision of the bill, was also favoured. Supporters argue that plain packaging will prevent producers from attracting young people with colourful packages and will help reduce consumption. Concerns were raised about children’s exposure to tobacco products and children spending time they ought to use for studies on smoking cigarettes or using ‘vapes’ because they are addicted to nicotine, with supporters arguing that the Bill’s passage would guarantee their protection. “What we currently have is simply not effective,” says Egbe. “The plain packaging and graphic warning policy has worked in other countries and is well supported. In South Africa, 58% of smokers said graphic health warnings, showing the health consequences of tobacco use, would encourage them to quit. As for e-cigarettes, they are not even regulated currently, so there is need to bring them under proper regulatory framework.”


Backing for e-cigarette regulation
The proposed regulation of electronic delivery systems also received strong backing. Speakers expressed
concern over the targeting of youth by marketers of electronic cigarettes, also called vapes, exposing them to harmful substances. Supporters argued that the Bill addresses a regulatory loophole, providing a framework for regulating the marketing, sales, standards, and use of these products.  Many young people, including those representing the South African Tobacco-Free Youth Forum, criticised producers of tobacco and electronic delivery systems, saying that these industries prioritise their profits over the wellbeing of people, especially that of young people.


There is already enough evidence of harm for 107 countries globally to have chosen the path of regulating, or in some cases completely banning, e-cigarettes, according to Dr Catherine Egbe. GATS-SA shows that emerging products, including e-cigarettes and hookah, are mostly used by younger age groups. The highest percentage usage of e-cigarettes in the age 15-24 category at 3.1% (overall prevalence is 2.2%), while 7.1% of this age group are using hookah. “This is an alarming statistic for harmful products. This is not the group that would be using them to stop smoking. These products are a major concern for parents, schools and communities, and should be regulated in South Africa. While those against the bill ask our government to look towards countries such as Sweden and the UK for guidance, in these countries, e-cigarettes are in fact regulated!”


Stopping indiscriminate marketing
Egbe says the regulation of advertising, another tenet of the Bill, is critical. “We’ve all seen the prominent,
brightly coloured displays of e-cigarettes in malls, kiosks and stores. You don’t see cigarettes displayed like this, because it is not allowed. However, because the current law doesn’t include e-cigarettes, the industry exploits this legislative vacuum. The youth is clearly their target.” Sanele Zulu from the South African Tobacco-Free Youth Forum (SATFYF) emphasised the importance of shielding young individuals from becoming targets. “Nearly 80% of young people aged 15 to 24 buy their cigarettes from Spaza shops and kiosks. According to GATS-SA, nearly 75% start smoking before they are fully capable of distinguishing between addiction and non-addiction. The research shows 18% begin before they
turn 15, and 43% by the time they’re 16. It’s unacceptable for young people, who are still forming their identities, to be easily exposed to the trap of nicotine addiction.”


Supporting NHI implementation
Lorraine Govender of the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) says that evidence-based tobacco control interventions as included in the Bill make sense from an economic as well as a public health standpoint. “Tobacco control is a critical measure to reduce the economic burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in South Africa, mostly cardiovascular disease, cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes. NCDs account for the deaths of over 50% of South Africans prematurely every year. Tobacco adds to the economic and human resources costs of implementing the NHI, and these costs would be subsidised by taxpayers while the tobacco industry reaps the profit. It’s time for South Africa to strengthen our tobacco control legislation and pass the Bill. It can only benefit our economy, our environment and our health. It’s time we all say ‘YES’ to the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill. We look forward to further hearings.”

(ENDS)

Available for interview:
Zanele Mthembu, Public Health Policy and Development Consultant, Convenor: Protect our Next
Dr Catherine Egbe, Specialist Scientist in the Mental Health, Alcohol, Substance Use and Tobacco Research
Unit (MASTRU) at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
Prof. Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Director of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) and the Head of the School of
Health Systems and Public Health at the University of Pretoria, Director of ATIM
Sanele Zulu, Convenor: South African Tobacco Free Youth Forum
Lorraine Govender, National Manager, Health Promotion, CANSA