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Those who have stopped smoking during this time should not start

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

Press release: 17 August 2020

Johannesburg, S.A – With the move to Level 2, based on the reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases, and the reduction in the number of hospital cases, among other indicators, the temporary ban on the sale of tobacco products will be lifted from midnight tonight.

While tobacco products will now be available, current evidence indicates that tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke is associated with worse outcomes should smokers and those exposed contract COVID-19. These groups are more likely to be hospitalized, have a more severe form of the disease, and require ICU admission and ventilation.

The National Council Against Smoking encourages those who have stopped smoking during this time not to go back to smoking. Covid-19 will remain with us for the foreseeable future, and stopping smoking will improve health outcomes for those who stop using tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, vape products, snuff and hookah pipes.

Sharon Nyatsanza says “Those who have stopped smoking are in a stronger position to fight infections and diseases such as Covid-19. Stopping smoking results in many health benefits, including improved lung function, immune response and cardiovascular health.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has again brought to the fore the strong association between exposure to tobacco and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, chronic respiratory disease and cancer. These co-morbidities have impacted negatively on COVID-19 disease progression in those who contracted the disease. Yet another reason to stop using all tobacco and tobacco-related products.

Savera Kalideen says “The ban was always going to be temporary. However, the long-term need for changes and improvements in the country’s tobacco control policies remain. The Tobacco Bill was released for public comment in 2018, and has still not been passed. We call on the Minister of Health to urgently expedite passage of the Tobacco Bill to protect public health, and reduce the burden on the public health system.”

Even without COVID-19, more than 42100 people die from tobacco-related diseases each year. This is an intolerable human cost each year, and is entirely preventable with a reduction in the use of tobacco and related products.

We also call on the government to act to reduce illicit trade in the country, by ratifying and implementing the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. Illicit trade in tobacco is a criminal activity which is enabled by the lack of prosecution of those involved, and we urge the National Prosecuting Authority to act on the available evidence to prosecute those responsible.

The introduction of the Tobacco Bill and the Protocol on Illicit Trade will together reduce the negative impact of tobacco on the health of the nation and strengthen the fight against both non-communicable and communicable diseases. Smokers who need help to stop smoking can call 011720 3145 for telephonic support. [ENDS]

For further information, contact:

Sharon Nyatsanza: 079 666 1356

Savera Kalideen: 071 227 0939


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