A recent survey has revealed that about one out of four South African adults smoke some kind of tobacco product.
Health Deputy Minister, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, says government may have to consider tightening tobacco regulations in South Africa.
The Deputy Minister was speaking at the release of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) results for the country in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday morning, where the commemoration of World No Tobacco Day also took place.
The survey results show that at least one out of four adults smoke tobacco products like cigarettes, hubbly, cigars, or pipes, while a further one in 25 adults uses smokeless tobacco products like snuff.
This brings the total number of tobacco users to at least three out of ten adults.
“These results are demonstrating the urgency for government to tighten regulatory measures to control tobacco.
“The GATS results will address some of the clauses of the draft Tobacco Bill [Control of Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill] that are currently being processed.
“There will still be opportunities for more discussion on the data, since a full report will be released, and we urge everyone to interact with the report to understand the extent of the social and economic impact of tobacco in our society,” the Deputy Minister said.
He said the survey results indicate “a need to strengthen our social behavioural change strategies”.
“Over the years, we have had different studies that provided the country with figures on our smoking rates.”
From 1998 to 2000, the country experienced a gradual decrease in smoking rates.
In 2016, there was an increase and the country still finds itself facing another increase with these Global Adult Tobacco Survey results.
“These results paint a picture that should concern all of us as individuals, society, and country,” he said.
The survey further states that at least two-thirds of smokers have planned to quit or are thinking about doing so.
The Deputy Minister said this indicates that smokers may need social and health support to beat their addiction.
“If 40% of the people made an attempt to quit smoking, it may also mean that we may have to strengthen services for those who want to quit.
Priority should be given to the development of cessation programmes.
Let’s unite to help them quit,” he said.
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