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.


·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


Media contact:

Tamaryn Brown

Connect Media for CART Agency


Tel: 084 3510560

Comments from Dr Sharon Nyatsanza, Deputy Director, National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) 

The National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) welcomes the fourth WHO global tobacco trends report published on Tuesday, which shows that smoking rates are falling globally. In the past 20 years global smoking rates have dropped from 32% to 22%. This is good news for public health, and it is a confirmation that strong tobacco control policies are effective. It also commendable that the African Region has the highest proportion of countries on track for a 30% reduction in smoking rates by 2025 (53% of countries). But, the report also makes it clear that the gains are not equal, but are closely linked to progress and efforts made by individual countries to end the tobacco epidemic. South Africa is not among the 25 Afro region countries on track to meet the reduction target of 30% by 2025.

 If South Africa continues with business as usual, in particular the slow rate of implementation of strong tobacco control policies, the WHO estimates that South Africa will see a small decrease of 6% in smoking rates. This is significantly lower than other African countries like Uganda and Kenya, which will see a 54% and 30% drop in smoking rates respectively. Both of these countries have put in place stronger tobacco control laws. For instance, they have 100% smoke-free public places, which better protects non-smokers from harmful second-hand smoke. Kenya and Uganda also require graphic health warnings on tobacco products, which have been proven to be more effective in preventing children from starting to smoke and in encouraging smokers to quit.

South Africa, as one of the 182 members of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), acknowledges that the solution to the tobacco problem lies in implementing strong tobacco control policies as recommended under the FCTC. So we know the solutions, the challenge lies in implementing these solutions with speed. Over three years have passed since the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill (Tobacco Control Bill) was published, and it still has not been passed as law. Every day of delay results in more premature deaths and disability from tobacco. 

Reducing tobacco use is not only a health priority, but also an economic, sustainable development, and human rights issue. High smoking rates threaten sustainable development, exacerbate poverty and burden the health system. To see a significant fall in smoking rates and to truly end the damage caused by tobacco use, South Africa needs to accelerate its tobacco control efforts, the first being to pass the Tobacco Control Bill into law.


Health organisations forming part of the #protectournext partnership include the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), 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. 

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

For further information, contact

Dr Sharon Nyatsanza (Ph.D.)

Deputy Director – National Council Against Smoking

Contact: 079 666 1356 / 011 725 1514


The National Council Against Smoking is a leading not-for-profit organisation working to promote public health by encouraging a tobacco-free society.

Press kit with photos: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1gm16476cjq31ts/AAArW8vViqkhTtXbLxe_1pqqa?dl=0