This Freedom Day advocates of tobacco control are highlighting the power of the law to protect our rights to freedom and health, while calling for the passing of new legislation to free South Africa from addiction and other harms associated with the use of tobacco and related products including e-cigarettes.  “As we commemorate our first democratic elections, let’s celebrate the power of good governance and law to change lives for the better and protect our future.  We believe in creating a tobacco-free and nicotine-free South Africa.  The Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill, currently in parliament, will help us do that,” says Dr Sharon Nyatsanza, Deputy Director of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS).


NCAS and other health organisations united under the Protect our Next initiative are hopeful the Bill can become law in 2023.  “Measures in the new Bill close loopholes and are set to reduce tobacco use,  exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke as well as the initiation of tobacco use by young people. It brings South Africa’s domestic legislation closer to full implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global standard captured as sustainable development Goal (SDG) target 3.a,” says Nyatsanza.

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, Freedom Day 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 crippling impact of non-communicable diseases, 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 this Freedom Day by visiting www.protectournext.co.za and pledging your support for the Bill,” says Nyatsanza. “Let’s pass the Bill in 2023.”


About Protect our Next

Health organisations forming part of the #protectournext partnership include the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) and the South African Tobacco Free Youth Forum (SATFYF). Together, these organisations are steadfast in driving awareness of the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarettes, while campaigning for the Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill to be passed. 
www.protectournext.co.za
@protectournext

PROTECT OUR NEXT PRESS KIT

About the Bill:

The Tobacco Control Bill requires that any enclosed public area is 100% smoke-free, and will make certain outdoor public places smoke-free too, providing protection for many South Africans who are often involuntarily exposed to second-hand smoke. It removes the requirement to provide for smoking areas in all enclosed public places, workplaces and on public conveyances and applies 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.

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. 

AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW:

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

Dr Sharon Nyatsanza, Deputy Director, NCAS

Dr Catherine Egbe, Specialist Scientist: Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drug Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council

Sanele Zulu, Convenor: South African Tobacco Free Youth Forum

Zanele Mthembu, Public Health Policy and Development Consultant and Convenor: Protect Our Next

Lorraine Govender, National Manager, Health Promotion, CANSA

MEDIA CONTACT:

Tamaryn Brown

Connect Media for CART Agency

084 3510560 / tamaryn@connectmedia.co.za