A new initiative to #SwitchoffTobacco in Mamelodi launches this week. A dynamic team of Protect our Next ambassadors will be educating the Mamelodi community about the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarettes and explaining how the new Tobacco Control Bill will better protect communities. Community media and social channels will carry #SwitchoffTobacco discussions, while the ambassadors visit local schools, churches, taxi ranks, malls, traders and community hotspots over the next month with an engaging edutainment programme that encourages the whole community to pledge to be tobacco free.
Protect our Next is a partnership between South Africa’s leading health organisations, including the National Council Against Smoking (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). Together, the organisations are united in educating communities about tobacco and campaigning for the new Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Services Bill to be passed to better protect the health of the nation.
“Tobacco use is still too high in South Africa. About 1 in 5 adults smoke, and this has a major impact on the health of communities and strains our health system,” says NCAS Deputy Director Sharon Nyatsanza. “More than 80% of smokers smoked their first cigarette in their teens, and most smokers wish they had never started. It’s clear that tobacco companies are active in the townships, targeting these markets. Communities like Mamelodi, a buzzing hotspot with an influx of people, need to protect themselves from tobacco industry manipulation and send a clear message that they will be tobacco-free. It’s up to communities to get involved and take action. We’re switching on Mams to switch off tobacco!”
“The earlier one starts to use tobacco and nicotine, the greater your risk for heart disease, strokes, other circulatory disorders and respiratory conditions,” says Dr Catherine Egbe, specialist scientist at SAMRC.“We know that the earlier children initiate tobacco use, the more difficult it will be for them to quit. The nicotine in tobacco and alternative products such as e-cigarettes is a highly addictive drug that can impact the development of the brains of young people.”
The Protect our Next team aims to roll out similar education and awareness initiatives in other communities across South Africa. The successful #protectournext schools education programme has also taken place in schools in Alexandra, Midrand and Ivory Park. Educators and community leaders welcomed the initiative, saying that children are both exposed to and experimenting with tobacco at a young age. “Many of our learners have parents and relatives who smoke. These education initiatives really help the children to understand the dangers and to better protect themselves, and we also hope they will take the message home,” says Vice Principal Patrick Ndange of Emfundisweni Primary School.
Nyatsanza says passing the proposed Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Services Bill, which is currently moving through its policy pathway in South Africa, is a vital part of better protecting communities. “The new Bill requires that any indoor public place is 100% smoke-free, and will make certain outdoor public places smoke-free too. It will further ban smoking in private dwellings used for commercial child care and educational activities, and in cars carrying children under 18. Cigarette advertising at tills and the sale of cigarette via vending machines, which is a channel for young people to access cigarettes would also be prohibited if this bill is passed into law.”
Importantly, the new Bill seeks to regulate e-cigarettes or vape products. “Our current legislation predates e-cigarettes and manufacturers have used the legislative vacuum to promote these devices and appeal to youth – including marketing e-liquids which come in a number of flavours to make them more appealing to young people,” says Dr. Egbe. “We must close the legislative gap and prevent a new generation from becoming addicted to nicotine.”
“Active, educated communities are vitally important in the fight against tobacco. Everyone can help by educating themselves and others about the risks,” says Nyatsanza. “It’s time to take back our health from big tobacco bullies.”
HOW YOU CAN PROTECT YOUR COMMUNITY FROM THE TOBACCO EPIDEMIC:
Follow @protectournext on social media and become a Tobacco Control Champion.
Educate yourself and others on the harms of nicotine and tobacco product use.
Show your support for the implementation of the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill in South Africa.
Facebook and Twitter:@protectournext
Available for interview:
Dr Sharon Nyatsanza, Deputy Director, NCAS
Dr Catherine Egbe, Specialist Scientist: Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council
Lorraine Govender, National Advocacy Co-Ordinator, CANSA
Professor Pamela Naidoo, CEO, The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa
Zanele Mthembu, Public Health Policy and Development Consultant
Thuto Bothlale Secondary School:
Date: 20 October 2021
Time of Activation: 11:00 till 13:00
7945 Lehlwa Street, Nelmapius ,Ext 7
Contact person: Lucky – 0738169443
Nwavangani Primary School
Date: 21 October 2021
Time of Activation: 10:30 am till 13:30
Call Time: 10 am
Call Venue: Motamilenyora Street, Mamelodi East
Contact person: Lucky – 0738169443
Schools ‘Next’ Programme
Community Roaming Ambassadors
Community Hotspots (Parks and recreation)
Local radio and press
Protect our Next Smoke free paintings and murals
Traders and spaza shops – smoke-free vendors signs
Connect Media for CART agency
27 (0) 84 3510560