Skip to main content
For help to stop smoking - call our Quitline at +27 11 720 3145 or Whatsapp on +27 72 76 4812
ProtectOurNext site logo

World Stroke Week: Prevent stroke – don’t smoke!

Publish Date:

November 1, 2022

World Stroke Week is an annual focus from 28 October to 2 November, with World Stroke Day falling on 29 October. Protect our Next partners, including the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), CANSA, the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), the South African Tobacco Free Youth Forum (SATFYF) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSFSA) are highlighting tobacco use as a major risk factor for stroke. 

The Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill has now been approved by Cabinet to progress to Parliament and includes various vital measures set to reduce tobacco use in South Africa. The sooner South Africa passes the Bill into law, the sooner all South Africans will be better protected from the multiple health risks posed by smoking, including cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Key points on stroke and smoking:

  • Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 toxic chemicals which change and damage cells all around your body. The changes that these chemicals cause can increase your risk of stroke. 

·       Every day, up to 360 South Africans are affected by stroke. About a third of those who suffer a stroke will die, and a quarter will be left with a life-changing disability. Some people who survive a stroke will recover fully but many people will be left with lasting disabilities. Strokes not only affect the survivor’s ability to live a normal life, but can also have devastating consequences for their loved ones. 

  • Smoking is the second leading cause of cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease, after high blood pressure.  Protect our Next partners encourage all South Africans to avoid smoking or the use of other tobacco products and to protect themselves and their families from exposure to second-hand smoke, or passive smoking.
  • Smoking makes you twice as likely to die if you have a stroke, and the more you smoke, the greater your risk of stroke. If you smoke 20 cigarettes a day, you are six times more likely to have a stroke compared to a non-smoker.
  • Chemicals from smoke affect your blood, making it thicker, stickier and more likely to form clots. They cause fatty material (plaque) to build up on your blood vessel walls faster. This process starts early and can be seen in smokers in their teens and early twenties. 
  • Smoking reduces the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (also called HDL) in your blood stream and increases levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol (also called LDL). Having low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol in your body increases your risk of stroke. 
  • When you inhale cigarette smoke, carbon monoxide and nicotine enter your blood –  reducing the amount of oxygen, making your heart beat faster, and raising blood pressure. This increases your stroke risk. 
  • The chemicals in smoke make your platelets, a type of blood cell, more likely to stick together. This increases the chance of a clot forming – causing stroke. 
  • Women who smoke and use oral contraception are almost four times more likely to have a stroke than women who use neither. This risk increases with age. 
  • Breathing in someone else’s smoke is hazardous. Children are particularly vulnerable to passive smoking as they have less well-developed airways, lungs and immune systems. 

Smoking is a controllable risk factor for stroke – a factor that people have the power to change! By stopping, you are greatly reducing the risks you are posing to your family, friends and people around you.

Your risk of stroke decreases after you stop smoking. In some studies, the risk of stroke in ex-smokers becomes similar to people who have never smoked after five to ten years. Importantly, stopping smoking reduces the risk of stroke in people with high blood pressure.

When you quit..

  • Within one day the level of carbon monoxide in your blood drops back to normal.
  • After eight weeks your level of good cholesterol has improved. This helps slow down the build-up of fatty deposits on your artery walls.
  • Within three months your blood is less thick and sticky, and your blood flow will improve.
  • Within two to five years, there is a large drop in your risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • After fifteen years your risk of heart disease and stroke is close to that of a person who has never smoked.

South Africa needs to pass the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill into law to better protect all South Africans from the multiple health risks posed by smoking.

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 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. 

About the Bill:

The Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems 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 in private dwellings used for commercial childcare 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. Importantly, the Bill also includes the regulation of e-cigarettes. Cigarette and e-cigarette advertising at tills and the sale of these products through vending machines will be prohibited. 


Social: @protectournext


Media contact:

Tamaryn Brown

Connect Media for CART agency

+ 27 (0) 84 3510560

Related Articles