Friday, 19 July, 2024
HomeAddiction ResearchPassing of Tobacco Bill urged for SA and its 12.7m smokers

Passing of Tobacco Bill urged for SA and its 12.7m smokers

Anti-tobacco groups in South Africa – where smokers on average puff on 8.5 cigarettes a day – urged the new government this week to expedite the passing of the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill to curb smoking and regulate the vape and e-cigarette markets.

Data show the prevalence of tobacco use among adults in the country is 29.4%, equating to 12.7m people, according to the 2021 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) SA report, with data from 7 245 households.

The report shows that more men (41.7%) than women (17.9%) use tobacco, the highest proportion being in the 45-64 age range at 28.6%, with nearly half (47.4%) of the males in this demographic expected to be smokers, reports BusinessTech.

Lead investigator of the GATS Dr Catherine Egbe from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) said 21.2% of adults in South Africa smoke tobacco daily (35.1% of men and 8.3% of women), while 4.6% smoke occasionally.

The average age of initiation to tobacco use was 17.6 years old among adults aged between 20 and 34, and 33.9% of daily tobacco users smoke within five minutes of waking up.

The highest prevalence of users is in the Northern Cape, followed by the Western Cape, with the lowest in Limpopo.

E-cigarettes and hookah pipe

The report said 2.2% of the South African adult population currently used e-cigarettes: 3.8% are men and 0.7% are women.

However, this slightly differs from the SA E-Cigarette Survey 2022, which revealed that more than one in 10 (11.3%) adults in urban SA have tried e-cigarettes, and 4% of adults were regular e-cigarette users at the time of the survey.

The Department of Health’s Deputy Director of General Primary Healthcare, Jeanette Hunter, said there had been an increase in the use of hookah, e-cigarettes and vapes, particularly among young people.

“Studies have highlighted health risks associated with e-cigarettes and hookah pipes, hubbly bubbly or shisha, even though they are aggressively marketed as healthier tobacco alternatives,” she said.

According to the GATS, of those using e-cigarettes, 70.3% cited enjoyment, 67.5% cited flavour, 45.1% perceived it as less harmful than tobacco, while 43.5% said their use was influenced by friends or family who use e-cigarettes.

The study also found that 3.1% of adults reported smoking hookah pipe or hubbly bubbly.


Among adults currently smoking tobacco, 80.9% attempted to quit without assistance, 4.1% used pharmacotherapy, and 42.9% received advice to stop from their healthcare provider.

Data also show that 74.4% of adults who visited public places were exposed to second-hand smoke (SHS).

Meanwhile, 19.9% were exposed to SHS at school, 16.0% at tertiary institutions and 11.3% in cafes.

Government interventions

As part of the recommendations to amend the existing Act, Egbe emphasised the importance of implementing tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws, graphic health warnings, and total bans on tobacco advertising and promotion to reduce smoking initiation, particularly among young people.

“Effective strategies … including more comprehensive laws that are compliant with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, should be implemented to protect more people from exposure to SHS, and provide cessation services to help smokers quit,” she said.



Business Tech article – New smoking laws for South Africa coming – as almost a third of all adults light up every day (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Vaping industry exploits SA’s policy gap, enticing more to young people to smoke


State urged to tighten tobacco laws as smoking rates increase


SAMRC to implement South Africa’s First Global Tobacco Adult Survey


Tobacco firms aggressively targeting youth – SAMRC


Mixed reaction to new smoking, vaping Bill at public hearing

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