More than 42 000 annual deaths in South Africa are attributed to tobacco use, the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) said at the Health Portfolio Committee's public hearing in Cape Town this week.
In a statement, the Health Department said it welcomed submissions on tighter tobacco control from various organisations including Cansa, the South African Medical Association and the Health Economics Unit of the University of Cape Town (UCT).
The hearings are aimed at amending section 76 of the Tobacco Control Amendment Bill of 2008 to bring it in line with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, amongst others.
Among the proposals the Department was making to the Portfolio Committee was the introduction of picture-based warnings on packets as part of promoting awareness about the dangers of tobacco use.
It would also propose the prohibition of free distribution of tobacco products as part of advertising, marketing and promotion by manufacturers and distributors.
In his submission to the committee, Evan Blecher of the UCT Health Economics Unit dismissed claims by the tobacco industry that tighter control of tobacco products led to the shrinking of the agricultural sector and the erosion of the tax base.
He said tobacco control in the country had not had any impact on the income of sectors of the hospitality industry such as restaurants.
Cansa proposed that all forms of advertising and promotion of tobacco products must be banned in order to help prevent young people from starting to smoke.
It said it's claim of 42 000 annual deaths was based on research by the Medical Research Council of South Africa. – (Sapa, May 2008)