The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa recently confirmed that the temporary ban on the sale of tobacco products has been lifted on 17 August 2020, due to the reduction of the number of COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions, the recovery rate and more indicators.
The National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) along with the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and the Heart Stroke Foundation of South Africa are using the “protect our next” campaign to call for an update of the tobacco control legislation in South Africa by passing the control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill to get public support for the Bill. The campaign aims to educate the public on tobacco related harm and encourage people to stop smoking.
The executive director of NCAS, Severa Kalideen said that when the Bill passed it will make it easier for South Africans to choose smoke free lives. The regulation of e-cigarettes or vape products will decrease the impact of second- hand smoke on 80% of the population who are non-smokers. “The ban was always going to be temporary. However, the long-term need for improvements in the country’s tobacco control policies remains,” says Kalideen. She further explained that drastic measure must be taken to reduce tobacco related illnesses. An aware is also raised to how the large scale of the e-cigarettes/ vaping industries operating in a legislative vacuum, which is an introduction of more young people to nicotine addiction masked in youth friendly flavors.
The Public Health Policy and Development Consultant, Zanele Mthembu, states that the healthy of our nation is key to build a thriving society. The government aims to the next stage of tobacco control Bill to ensure proper regulation of the tobacco industry and protecting the health of the nation, especially the children. It is about time to focus on a comprehensive regulation of tobacco and nicotine products in South Africa,” says Dr. Catherine Egbe, Specialist Scientist of Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drug Research Unit. This will save lives and prevent the tobacco industries from targeting children, the youth and women to prevent the on-going of businesses selling substances.
More smokers are advised to quit smoking for their own health benefits to reduce the likeliness of a severe illness should they contract COVID-19. As many smokers have managed to stop or limit smoking it shows that it is possible for them to live without smoking, as it comes with many consequences such as lung failures, different types of cancers and more. The people of South Africa has proven during this pandemic that life could be way better and easier without relying on substances that intoxicate your body. Healthcare facilitates will investigate it that they help those suffering from this addiction, says Dr Nyatsanza of NCAS.
“’A special applause to those who managed to stop smoking during the lockdown, we encourage you to continue with your quit program,” says Lorraine Govender of CANSA. This also benefits the country and our economy; the money can be rather used of essentials and food. Healthcare systems burdens are also reduced of tobacco-related disease cases. It is up to us as a country to make sure we take good care of our health during this pandemic, by taking responsibility individually for our own health.