CAPE TOWN- A number of South African health organisations have called for stronger tobacco control legislation that will regulate e-cigarettes or vape products and will decrease the impact of second-hand smoke on the 80 percent of the population, who are non-smokers.
The National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and South African Medical Research Council (Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit), have collectively called for the speedy introduction of the Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill in South Africa.
This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa lifted the temporary ban on the sale of tobacco products last week as the country entered alert level 2 of the national lockdown.
Executive director of NCAS, Savera Kalideen, said the ban on tobacco was always going to be temporary, however, the long-term need for improvements in the country's tobacco control policies remains.
"The Bill is even more critical with the coronavirus pandemic still claiming lives – yet, it has stalled since published for public comments from May to August 2018. The e-cigarette or vaping industry in particular, is operating in a legislative vacuum, introducing more and more young people to nicotine addiction with these toxic products masked in youth-friendly flavours. We call on the Minister of Health to urgently expedite passage of the Bill to protect public health and reduce the burden on the public health system," said Kalideen
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The health organisations are using the "Protect our next" campaign to get public support for the Bill and it will also educate the public on tobacco-related harm and encourage people to stop smoking.
Public Health Policy and Development Consultant, Zanele Mthembu said, "we implore our government to move to the next stage and process the Tobacco Control Bill to ensure proper regulation of the tobacco industry and the protection of the health of the nation, primarily the children. Passing the Bill further augurs well for the implementation of National Health Insurance because of the benefits of prevention to the health system."
Kalideen urged government to take rapid action on passing the Bill. "Strengthening overall tobacco control legislation in support of our WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) commitments will make a powerful difference to South Africa’s public health."
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