Tobacco consumption in South Africa has fallen for eight consecutive years since 1991, a meeting to discuss the Framework Convention on Tobacco
Control heard in Sandton, Johannesburg, on the 12th of March. Delivering the keynote address, Dr Derek Yach, executive director of
non-communicable diseases and menial health at the World Health Organisation, said this was a result of sustained tobacco control
He said in 1998-99 more than 30 billion cigarettes were released for consumption, down by 17 percent from the 36 billion released in 1993-94.
The work of public health advocates in South Africa thrived. Led by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, South Africa's tobacco control
story is now a shining example for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of public excellence and political courage. The 11th World
Conference on Tobacco held last year in Chicago saluted this leadership with an award recognising her exemplary courage, Yach said.
Crucially, the declines have been most significant among the poorest and the youngest groups in the country. New laws banning smoking in public
places and the complete ban on tobacco advertising and promotion, which is being incrementally introduced this year, are likely to push the rates
down even faster, he added. Yach dismissed claims that tobacco control would lead to job losses.
We know from economists around the world that far from causing job losses, people who stop smoking will spend their money on other goods and
services, resulting in an increase in employment in those sectors. We know what works in South Africa will work in many other countries, Yach said.
Speaking at the same forum. Tshabalala-Msimang said her department would tighten the laws controlling smoking to ensure that everyone has an
environment that's not harmful to their well-being. She said the tobacco industry had shown they'll use any loophole to
protect their product. We will also find all the gaps and close them.
Tshabalala-Msimang urged participating nations to pass laws that would ensure that the youth and all vulnerable groups were protected from the
harmful effects of smoking.
Source: Sowetan, 13 March 2001