By Adam Sibuyi
‘Stop smoking’ plea as habit kills 50,000 South Africans every year. Smoking kills more than 50,000 people in South Africa each year, about a third of them before the age of 60, it was revealed on Tuesday as health experts and anti-smoking campaigners (Madiba Youth Organisation) urged people to give up the expensive habit.
“These deaths mean the loss of breadwinners for so many families too,” Madiba Youth Organisation Founder and Managing Director Mr Adam Sibuyi said at an event marking World No Tobacco Day, which falls tomorrow.
The theme for World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2017, is “Tobacco – a threat to development.” It will propose measures that governments and the public should take to promote health and development by confronting the global tobacco crisis.
Bushbuckridge Youth Chamber of Businesses and Tourism and several other anti-smoking campaigners joined forces at today’s event to encourage people to say “no” to cigarettes.
Tobacco consumption is very high in South Africa. One in five adults and one out of six youths smoke, amounting to almost 11 million smokers.
“Smoking is a threat to health and efforts to combat poverty,” Sibuyi said.
Tobacco is a key risk factor for many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and tuberculosis – illnesses that put a financial strain on families and drain the government’s budget for universal health coverage.
According to 2014 figures, about 3.1 million South Africans earned no more than R6, 000 a month but spent more than R7.6 billion a year on cigarettes.
Sibuyi lamented that with hard-earned income being spent on cigarettes, families’ nutrition and children’s education were being adversely affected.
On a positive note, the Madiba Youth Organisation is pleading with the regime to strengthen and passed Tobacco Products Control Act, which will imposes stricter control on the sale of cigarettes.
For example, it must be illegal for shops to sell cigarettes in quantities less than a full packet. A complete ban on the sale of tobacco could be implemented at pharmacies, medical and educational institutions, amusement parks and zoos.
“By taking robust tobacco control measures, governments can safeguard their countries’ futures by protecting people’s health, generating revenues to fund health and other social services, and saving their environments from the ravages tobacco causes,” concluded Sibuyi .