01 September 2009

The Great SA Smoking Survey

Some local smokers think the best cigarette is the one after sex; others prefer their first in the morning. Even more South Africans want all cigarettes stamped out for good.

Some local smokers think the best cigarette is the one after sex; others prefer their first in the morning. Even more South Africans want all and any cigarettes stamped firmly and forever out.

The results of the first South African Smoking Survey are here.

The Nicorette South African Smoking Survey 2009, conducted in association with, has shed significant light on South Africans’smoking habits - and on non-smokers attitudes towards the habit.

The survey, conducted over a two-month period with 7000 Health24 readers, gives in-depth insight into how smoking trends have changed as a direct result of tough economic times, stricter smoking legislation and concerns around health.

Some of the survey’s key findings:

Recession plays a stop-smoking role
Smoking appears to have lost some of its allure along with losses in disposable during the economic recession. Just under 40% of the survey respondents cited the increased cost of cigarettes as one of their main smoking deterrents.

The most “satisfying” smoke
Respondents found smoking to be most satisfying when used to alleviate stress (33%) or when used as a ‘get up and go’ in the morning (28%). For 8% of smokers, their most enjoyable cigarette was after having sex.

Just a social smoker: are you sure?
While the majority of participants claimed to be social smokers, 42% confessed to smoking 11 to 20 cigarettes per day.

The majority of smokers, according to the survey, are likely to light up as soon as they wake up (33%) or with their first cup of coffee (39%).

Tobacco gets it grip on the impressionable young
Peer pressure remains the primary underlying factor that gets smokers started: 81% say they picked up the habit before age of 20. Taking up smoking after this easily influenced period becomes less likely, with only 2% starting smoking at 30 years or older.

Desperate to stub out the habit
An overwhelming 89% have tried to quit at one stage or another, indicating a high degree of dissonance amongst smokers.

And while mind over matter, coupled with the desire to stop smoking is the first step, (85% of participants relied on willpower to stop smoking), most smokers admitted to failing in their first few attempts (over 57% failed in their last six attempts to quit).

After sheer willpower, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), available in South Africa in the form of gum and patches, was the next smoking cessation option for quitters, with over 27% relying on NRT and additional assistance to quit smoking. Hypnotherapy and support groups both came in low at 4% and 5% respectively.

Tobacco loses big time in the popularity stakes
Stricter legislation from government, the ban on advertising cigarette brands, and a general shift in attitudes towards smoking revealed an overwhelmingly negative outlook on smoking, with 61% of participants having become more negative towards smoking in the past 12 months, while those who still maintained their contentment for the butt were at a low 4%.

Survey first of its kind
“The survey is the first documented study on South African consumers and their smoking habits,” Nicorette brand manager, Vanessa Sew Chung Hong, said.

“The main finding is that while consumers are aware of the health risks associated with smoking, many are unable to quit due to stressful work environment and the social ritual of smoking.”

“While attitudes towards smoking have changed, the impact that it has on individuals and the broader community is significant. Smoking and the consequences thereof are a major concern which needs to be addressed by industry players and the government.

“Non-smokers are not only asking for further bans on smoking but more importantly for stricter enforcement of legislation,” Sew Chung Hong said.

(- Health24, August 2009)

Information sourced from the Nicorette South African Smoking Survey 2009, and DRAFTFCB Redline press release.)


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