The World Congress of Family Doctors will take on the leading cause of death worldwide - tobacco use - when it calls for action against tobacco at their international conference in Durban in May.
The World Organisation of Family Doctors (Wonca) will launch its own Global Call to Action on Tobacco at the 16th Wonca World Congress.
This initiative will be spearheaded by the co-chairpersons of the Wonca Task Force on Tobacco Cessation, Dr Michael Bolan from Ireland and Dr Rick Botelho from New York.
Wonca, representing thousands of family practitioners worldwide, will call on its members to support this initiative.
The Wonca task force will establish international and regional networks of family physicians and educators in family medicine at the congress, to ensure that its message reaches all corners of the globe and that its aims are realised.
In addition, the task force will run a workshop at the congress to provide training for doctors in a sophisticated, motivational approach to smoking cessation.
This approach has been developed from clinical practice, research evidence and a range of theories and models on health behaviour change.
For doctors, this method entails changing their own approach from one of advice-giving to one of motivation.
Statistics show that the current four million tobacco-related deaths will rise to 10 million over the next 20 years.
What is particularly disturbing for southern Africa is that 70 percent of these deaths will be in the developing world.
Current research shows that about 20 percent of smokers are ready to quit. These people respond to advice and encouragement, since they have mostly already realised that smoking is bad for their health.
However, about 40 percent of the smoking population are not thinking about quitting and a further 40 percent are ambivalent about it.
South Africa has promulgated legislation aimed mostly at cutting down smoking, especially in public places. For example, tobacco companies can no longer advertise, neither can they sponsor public events.
However, smoking is still on the increase among young people and a substantial number of older smokers do not want to give up tobacco, despite the adverse effects it has on their health.
Source: Daily News, 27 March 2001