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27 July 2011

Fight against tobacco gathers steam

A decade ago the WHO began its battle against tobacco, as it identified the substance as one of the world’s leading killers.

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Close to a decade ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) began its global battle against tobacco usage, as it identified the substance as one of the World’s leading killers and estimated that nearly one billion people would die from tobacco usage this century.1

Its theme for the year is the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and with more than 170 signatory countries, the WHO further emphasises the steps that need to be taken in the fight against the tobacco-induced epidemic.

As tobacco companies step up their marketing campaigns, particularly in developing countries where regulatory frameworks are perhaps not stringently adhered to, the WHO calls on all countries that have signed the treaty to enforce the resolutions therein.

South Africa signed in 2003 and ratified in 2005, pledging to implement the resolutions of the treaty. South Africa has already put many of the advocated measures in place, including the raising of taxes and prices of tobacco products, the banning of advertising and promotion of tobacco products, banning smoking in public places such as restaurants and ensuring that health warnings around the dangers of smoking are prominently displayed on the packaging of any tobacco product.

How not smoking in public has influenced people to quit smoking

In South Africa, tobacco tax increases led to a doubling of the retail price of cigarettes and a large increase in tax revenues in the 1990s. During the same period, cigarette consumption declined dramatically; approximately 40% of the decrease was due to smokers quitting. The largest decreases were among young people and low-wage earners, those who reduce smoking most when prices increase.1

Vanessa Sew Chung Hong, Brand Manager for NICORETTE® commented that “legislation restricting people from smoking in public areas has already had a positive impact on encouraging people to give up smoking.” This was drawn from the extensive 2010 South African Smoking Survey conducted last year by this leading Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) brand.2 “Our 2010 survey showed that willpower and NRT are the most popular quitting options,”2 says Sew Chung Hong, “and that support from friends and family is crucial for those trying to quit smoking.”2

South Africans can therefore expect a continual tobacco tax increase every year plus further legislation around smoking in public areas, as the fight against tobacco gathers steam.

(Press release, July 2011)

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