This Saturday, 30 October, the Mamelodi community will march from Stanza Bopape Sports Complex to Matimba Library Hall as they pledge to #Switchofftobacco in Mams. Local community leaders, school principals and teams from the Department of Environmental Health (DoEH) are joining forces with Protect our Next, a partnership of South Africa’s health organisations, to collect tobacco litter en route, which local learners will use to create larger than life tobacco education murals at their schools.
The march will be followed by an event featuring community members, school principals, Protect our Next ambassadors, youth advocacy groups Youth with Passion, Ikamva Youth and the South African Tobacco Free Youth Forum (SATFYF), Pastor Pieter from the Royal Eagles Ministry at Silverton. Successful quitter Nicholas Mokena will share his quit story. The programme incorporates dance, music and theatre featuring local company 6N9 Production.
The community march is part of a new initiative to #SwitchoffTobacco in Mamelodi activating community media, local schools, churches, taxi ranks, malls, traders and community hotspots with an engaging edutainment programme that encourages the whole community to pledge to be tobacco free.
“Active, educated communities are vitally important in the fight against tobacco. Everyone can help by educating themselves and others about the risks,” says Sharon Nyatsanza, Deputy Director of the National Council Against Smoking. “It’s time to take back our health from big tobacco bullies.”
Launched during Schools Health Week, the #SwitchoffTobacco initiative has seen a dynamic team of Protect our Next ambassadors educating hundreds of learners at Thuto Bothlale Secondary School and Nwavangani Primary School about the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarettes, highlighting how the new Tobacco Control Bill will better protect communities. The schools pledged to remain smoke-free.
“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 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.”
Nyatsanza says passing the proposed Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Services Bill into law 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. Catherine Egbe of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) “We must close the legislative gap and prevent a new generation from becoming addicted to nicotine.”
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.
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.
HOW YOU CAN PROTECT YOUR COMMUNITY FROM THE TOBACCO EPIDEMIC:
Facebook and Twitter:@protectournext
MARCH AND EVENT PROGRAMME:
ProtectOurNext Mamelodi Community – October 2021
#SwitchOnMams to #SwitchOffTobacco
Date of March: Sat,30 October 2021
Gather Time: 09:00
March Start Time: 09:30
Starting Point: Stanza Bopape Sports Complex
End Point: Matimba Library Hall
Event Programme: 10:30 – 12:00
– Opening with National Anthem
– Welcome by the PON Brand Ambassador Team
– Tobacco vs The Health of our Community: Samuel Ntshegang (PON Ambassador) and Sanele Zulu (SATFYF)
– Community Leader Address: Pastor Pieter
– Community Member Address: Nicholas Mokoena – A Quit Story
– Industrial Theatre – PON Brand Ambassador Team
– Community School Principal
– Youth With Passion
– Industrial Theatre – PON Brand Ambassador Team
– Community Participation: Dance
– Thank you Mams!
Media Interviews: 12:00 – 13:30
Available for interview:
+27 (0) 82 823 3167
Connect Media for CART agency
+ 27 (0) 84 3510560