With the Covid-19 pandemic further highlighting the critical importance of quitting tobacco, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other health organisations continue to encourage countries to assist tobacco users to quit. Following on from 2021 ‘Commit to quit’ campaigns, the WHO has announced the 2022 global campaign for World No Tobacco Day – “Tobacco: Threat to our environment.”  The campaign aims to raise awareness of the environmental impact of tobacco – from cultivation, to production, distribution and waste. It gives tobacco users yet another reason to quit.  

In continued support of quit initiatives into 2022, the National Department of Health (DOH) is working closely with the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) and leading NGOs active in South Africa to communicate the importance of quitting smoking and the resources available to help people quit through a new campaign titled ‘Sibo Manqoba!’.

“South Africans embrace winning and being winners. Sibo Manqoba means ‘we are winners’. Through the new ‘Sibo Manqoba’ campaign, we’re calling on South Africans to conquer tobacco and win the battle against this debilitating addiction by committing to quit now.  Quitters are winners!” says Dr Sharon Nyatsanza, Deputy Director of the National Council Against Smoking,  

The DOH will continue promoting a ‘quit attitude’ through sharing information, quitting resources and support as well as partnering with local NGOs and community organisations to roll out an educational programme in schools. The programme kicks off with a tobacco education mural competition, schools pledge and education days delivered in partnership with the Department of Environmental Health (DoEH) and Protect our Next (@protectournext) organisations– the NCAS, the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HFSA) and the South African Tobacco Free Youth Forum (SATFYF).

“Tobacco use is still unacceptably high in South Africa, with 1 in 5 adults smoking. More than 80% of smokers smoked their first cigarette in their teens, and most smokers wish they had never started,” says Nyatsanza. “We believe educated communities are vitally important in the fight against tobacco. The new Tobacco Control Bill will better protect our communities, but we cannot wait for that to be passed before doing all we can to protect ourselves and our environment. Communities should better understand the risks and send a clear message that they will be tobacco-free.” 

Quitting smoking: the tools

For smokers, the message is clear, quit to protect your health, the health of those around you and our environment. “Nicotine is highly addictive, leading those trying to quit smoking down a path of physical and psychological hardship. Tobacco dependency is a chronic medical condition that may need repeated interventions. Kicking the habit, though not easy, is not impossible either. Through determination, willpower and some practical strategies, it can be done.”

The WHO recommends that smokers take immediate steps to quit by using proven methods such as quit lines and nicotine replacement therapies such as gum and patches, which are designed to help smokers quit tobacco.

Within 20 minutes of quitting, elevated heart rate and blood pressure drop. After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in the bloodstream drops to normal. Within 2-12 weeks, circulation improves and lung function increases. After 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.

Giving up smoking is beneficial for smokers across all age groups, even those suffering from smoking-related health problems. You can gain up to ten years of life expectancy by quitting. 

Quitting after the onset of a life-threatening disease, versus continuing smoking, also has rapid benefits. People who quit smoking after having a heart attack reduce their chances of having another heart attack by 50%.

Giving up smoking decreases the high risk of many diseases related to second-hand smoke in children, such as respiratory diseases and ear infections. Giving up smoking also reduces the risk of impotence, experiencing difficulty getting pregnant, premature births, low birth weight babies and miscarriage.

Top ten quit tips:

1.     Set a quit date, within 2 weeks, to give up smoking completely. Tell family, friends and co-workers about this quit date and seek their understanding and support.

2.     Have a plan! Anticipate challenges to the upcoming quit attempt and be prepared to address them.

3.     Remove all tobacco products and smoking paraphernalia from your environment. Make your home smoke free.

4.     Drink a lot of liquids, especially water. Try herbal teas or fruit juices. Limit coffee, soft drinks and alcohol as they can increase your urge to smoke.

5.     Avoid sweet and fatty foods. Try low calorie foods for snacking, such as carrots and other vegetables, sugarless gum, air popped popcorn or low-fat cottage cheese. Do not skip meals.

6.     Exercise regularly and moderately. Regular exercise helps. Joining an exercise group provides a healthy activity and a new routine.

7.     Get more sleep. Try to go to sleep early and get more rest.

8.     Take deep breaths. Distract yourself. When cravings hit, do something else immediately, such as talking to someone, getting busy with a task, or taking deep breaths. Watching a movie or listening to relaxing music can help. 

9.     Know your smoking triggers and change your habits. Take a different route to work, eat breakfast in a different place, or get up from the table immediately after eating.

10.   Use nicotine replacement therapy and other effective pharmacological products in consultation with a doctor.

Resources:

·For help to stop smoking, smokers can reach out to the National Council Against Smoking QUITLINE: 011 720 3145 or WhatsApp 072 766 4812

·The Cancer Association of South Africa runs eKick Butt, a unique online smoking cessation programme https://www.ekickbutt.org.za/


Other centres that may assist include:

·Lifeline provides counselling on a variety of issues and may be contacted @ 0800-12-322, the gender violence line is:  08000-150-150 and the AIDS helpline is: 0800-012-322.

·If you are struggling with breaking the addiction cycle, reach out to the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA) via WhatsApp on 076 535 1701 or call them on 011 892 3829.

·For help on how to manage stress and anxiety, call the South African Depression and Anxiety Support Group who can be contacted on 0800 21 22 23 and 0800 70 80 90. 
 

Available for comment:

Lynn Moeng, National Department of Health: Director

Lorato Mahura, National Department of Health: Health Promotion

Sharon Nyatsanza, PhD, Deputy Director, National Council Against Smoking

Tel: 011 725 1514 / 079 666 1356

www.againstsmoking.co.za

Media contact:

Tamaryn Brown

Connect Media for CART Agency

Tamaryn@connectmedia.co.za

Tel: 084 3510560

Dr Sharon Nyatsanza of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) says a respiratory pandemic is an opportune time for an increased focus on tobacco control, especially as new evidence shows a strong link between smoking and increased risks of severe COVID-19. According to UK Biobank research published in a leading respiratory journal, Thoraxsmoking increases the chances of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms by 80% and increases the risk of death by 511%, for smokers who smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day. 

The new study found that compared with those who had never smoked, current smokers were 80% more likely to be admitted to hospital. It found that heavy smoking significantly increased chances of dying from COVID-19 complications, by up to 511% for those who smoked 20 or more cigarettes a day – compared to non-smokers. The UK study drew on primary care records, COVID-19 test results, hospital admissions data and death certificates to look for associations between smoking and COVID-19 infection severity from January to August 2020 in over 400 000 participants of the UK Biobank. 

“This study strengthens the evidence base and establishes a causal link between smoking and serious COVID-19 complications,” says Dr Sharon Nyatsanza, Deputy Director of the National Council Against Smoking. “It also supports the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister’s case, who has since been granted leave to appeal the Western Cape Judgement over the temporary ban on tobacco sales. A key justification raised by government, was that tobacco use was linked to worse Covid-19 outcomes and that the ban was important in easing the burden on the health system.”

Nyatsanza highlights the importance of passing South Africa’s new Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill as soon as possible, particularly with reports from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) indicating that the death toll from Covid-19 is up to three times more than reported, making South Africa one of the worst affected countries in the world.  “We need urgent action to pass this updated and comprehensive set of measures to better protect our nation’s health and reduce the burden of tobacco-related disease on our health system, now and beyond the pandemic.”

Nyatsanza says that encouraging people to quit smoking and reducing smoking prevalence should be high on the list of preventive steps, as it keeps people out of hospital.  “Smoking is related to the risk of getting severe Covid-19, as it is to a number of non-communicable diseases like cancers and cardiovascular disease. Now is the time to quit smoking.” 

Smokers who need help to stop smoking can call the NCAS Quitline at 011720 3145 or send a WhatsApp message on 0727664812.

[ENDS]

For further information, contact:

Sharon Nyatsanza: 079 666 1356 / 011 725 1514
Deputy Director of the National Council Against Smoking

ncasmedia@mweb.co.za 
The National Council Against Smoking is a leading not-for-profit organization working to promote public health by encouraging a tobacco-free society.

Notes to editor:

  1. Research article: Clift, A.K., et al. (2021) Smoking and COVID-19 outcomes: an observational and Mendelian randomisation study using the UK Biobank cohort. Thorax. https://thorax.bmj.com/content/early/2021/09/12/thoraxjnl-2021-217080

www.protectournext.co.za
@protectournext

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Media Contact:
Tamaryn Brown
Connect Media
084 3510560 / Tamaryn@connectmedia.co.za