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Youth at Parliament

YOUTH DAY: Young tobacco control ambassadors march to Parliament in support of the Tobacco Control Bill

Publish Date:

June 16, 2023

Youth from all over Africa have been meeting in Cape Town this week at the inaugural 2023 AFRICA YOUNG AMBASSADORS SUMMIT, part of an initiative of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in partnership with the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA).  The youth ambassadors were welcomed by Protect our Next partner the South African Tobacco-Free Youth Forum (SATFYF) on Monday for a week of knowledge-sharing and action focused on tobacco control and creating a tobacco-free generation in South Africa. The sessions strengthen vital links between the Africa regional cohort and the Global Young Ambassadors Network.

Sanele Zulu, leader of SATFYF, says, “Our sessions here aim to establish common knowledge bases on tobacco control, advocacy skills, and planning and executing successful policy campaigns. The initiative identifies regional cohorts of young leaders to engage in cross-learning, sharing and joint action.” 

The African young ambassadors have also been developing initiatives for regional action linked to the global network in 2023.  On Thursday afternoon, ahead of Youth Day, the ambassadors will head to Parliament to demonstrate their support for urgently passing the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill and will present a memorandum to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health.  

“The tobacco control Bill protects our youth and should be urgently passed. We’re pleased that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee approved it to progress on World No Tobacco Day, but now we want to see action. We’d like to see these measures become law before the end of 2023, before even more youth become addicted to nicotine,” says Lesego Mateme of SATFYF. 

“It’s time to create a new generation free from tobacco and e-cigarettes, free to breathe and be healthy. 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 Mateme. “As young people, we need to make the right choices, but we also deserve better protection from the targeted marketing of tobacco and e-cigarette companies. The new Bill provides this protection.”

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.

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. “A sick nation is a poor nation. Our communities want freedom from tobacco and the damage it causes to our health, our environment, our economy and our youth. The Bill includes carefully designed measures to achieve this.”

For young people who already smoke or use e-cigarettes, Ingrid Bame of the National Council Against Smoking recommends accessing support to quit. “We do have strong support for anyone who needs to quit. 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.”

Available for interview:

Sanele Zulu, Convenor: South African Tobacco Free Youth Forum (SATFYF)

Lesego Mateme, Projects Co-ordinator, SATFYF

Phindile Ngobese, Scientist, SAMRC

Ingrid Bame, Project Co-ordinator, National Council Against Smoking

Minenhle Dlamini, Project Co-ordinator, CANSA

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

Gustavo Torrez – Director, Youth Advocacy

Bintou Camara Bityeki – Regional Director, Africa

Joshua Abrams – Director, Regional Director, Eurasia & Indonesia, Global Youth Advocacy

About Protect Our Next

Health organisations forming part of the Protect our Next 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.

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