Tobacco is arguably one of the biggest man-made contributors of mortality, with the current research showing that it kills at least 13 000 people around the world every year.
May 31 marks World No Tobacco Day, and the World Health Organization(WHO) uses this day is to highlight the threats of tobacco to the development of nations worldwide, and to call on governments to implement strong tobacco control measures.
According to a study by (WHO) and the US National Cancer Institute published earlier this year, smoking costs the global economy more than $1 trillion per year, almost four times the amount generated through tobacco excise duties.
In South Africa almost 20% of South Africans smoke, with males smoking much more or four times more compared to females. The Western Cape has the highest smoking prevalence, with almost 33 percent of smokers said to be living here.
Dr Daniel Malan – an ex-smoker and director of the Stellenbosch University-based Centre for Corporate Governance in Africa, who is currently conducting research for the Africa Harm Reduction Alliance says while tobacco use is prevalent in the continent, but there are enough methods to reduces harm caused by tobacco.
He adds that cigarette substitutes such as vaping products and smokeless tobacco products such as e-cigarettes are just some of the options for those who want to quit the habit.
“There are many other nicotine replacement therapy products on the market, such as nicotine gum or patches.Although they help some people to quit smoking, they have had limited success. A recent study in New Zealand found that e-cigarettes were more effective than nicotine patches for those looking to quit smoking,” he said.
Switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes had been confirmed to have potential benefits.
According to study by the Royal College of Physicians in the UK, "large-scale use of e-cigarettes, or other non-tobacco nicotine products has the potential to prevent almost all the harm from smoking in society. Promoting e-cigarettes as a substitute for smoking, is therefore likely to generate significant health gains”.
The Public Health England states that e-cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking, yet nearly half of the population is not aware of this.
Dr Derek Yach, who heads tobacco control at the WHO, has described e-cigarettes as a “force for good”, while Dr Scott Gottlieb, who heads of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says people should quit smoking.“We need to redouble efforts to help more smokers become tobacco-free. We need to have science-based methods to explore the potential of moving the current smokers – unable or unwilling to quit – to less harmful products, if they can’t quit altogether. At all times, we must protect kids from the dangers of tobacco use”.