Millions of tobacco users want to quit – WHO
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DURBAN - SOUTH AFRICA is one of 22 focus countries in the world that was part of the year-long global campaign for World No Tobacco Day 2021, under the global theme of “Commit to Quit”.
The World Health Organisation launched the campaign for World No Tobacco Day 2021 in December last year. The goal is to help 100 million people quit tobacco use through various initiatives and digital tools.
On Monday the National Health Department, the WHO, civil society organisations, and medical and nursing associations will discuss what is being done to turn the tide on tobacco harm in South Africa.
A new Tobacco Control dashboard, a first of its kind for Africa, will also be launched. It will put access to vital research and information at the fingertips of those who need it.
WHO regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said tobacco killed half of its users and globally every year around 1.2 million non-smokers died from exposure to tobacco smoke.
“This year we are urging tobacco users to ‘commit to quit’ and we are working with countries to improve access to supportive services such as toll-free quitlines, nicotine replacement therapy and text messaging and other information tools. Reducing tobacco use will save lives, save money and create healthier societies,” said Moeti.
Meanwhile, with health implications appearing to be the driving force against tobacco, prior to World Vape Day, British American Tobacco (BAT) published a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence for vaping products (e-cigarettes), their potential health effects and their role in Tobacco Harm Reduction.
BAT said that according to population modelling studies cited in the review, a significant reduction in premature deaths could be achieved if current smokers switched exclusively to vaping rather than continuing to smoke.
BAT director of scientific research Dr David O’Reilly said the reality was that many leading public health authorities have reported that vaping was less harmful than smoking and that this harm reduction potential can be maximised if those smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke switch exclusively to using vapour products.
The review highlighted that vaping products could effectively compete with combustible cigarettes by providing nicotine and the sensorial enjoyment sought by smokers.
Therefore, access to high-quality, extensively tested and well-regulated vapour products was crucial.
According to the review, vaping would only be considered a compelling alternative to smoking if public health institutions unambiguously and accurately inform smokers that switching completely to vaping can reduce their health risks.
“In SA, we had the consultation on the upcoming Tobacco and Vaping Bill with the Department of Health during May. We reiterated to the department that it is imperative that the basis of any regulation must be peer-reviewed science and empirical evidence from countries that have adopted vaping as a harm reduced product,” said British America Tobacco South Africa general manager Johnny Moloto.
SA Medical Research Council Specialist Scientist at the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit Dr Catherine Egbe said nicotine did not add any value to the lives of smokers or e-cig users. “Proposing a product which is perceived to be less harmful does not solve all the problems.”