WEBINAR: GATS-SA and the Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery System Bill
By Xolisile Dlou
On August 11, The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and other stakeholders engaged in a hybrid seminar that presented results from GATS-SA and shed some light on the importance of the tobacco Bill. GATS is a global standard for countries to systematically monitor adult tobacco use and track key tobacco control indicators. The audience was graced by the presence of SAMRC GATS-SA project team led by Dr. Catherine Egbe, Lead investigator and specialist scientist, Alcohol Tobacco, and Other Drug Research Unit, SAMRC.
During her presentation, Dr Catherine Egbe mentioned five key areas that the control of tobacco products and electronic delivery systems Bill was going to target. She further explained that these five key areas are very important for South Africa because a lot of things are happening in the tobacco space that they need to make sure the key areas are in line with the framework of conventional tobacco control. She went on to break down the Tobacco Control Bill’s key areas which are support for a 100% smoke-free policy, plain or standardized packaging for tobacco and nicotine products, regulating electronic cigarettes, removal of points of sale advertisements and marketing, and removal of cigarettes on vending machines.
She further shared some recommendations for tobacco control based on GATS-SA results, firstly, support for smoking cessation using evidence-based approaches. “Majority of smokers 65.7 % are planning to or thinking about quitting, 40.5% made quit attempts in the past 12 months, 65.1 % believe that smoking causes heart attack, lung cancer, and stroke while 62.6% wanted to quit because of concerns for their health,” she said. She added that 11.7% quit smoking within the last one year before the survey.
Egbe further mentioned that young people should be protected from being targeted and recruited from being smokers, “74% of adult smokers started smoking as teenagers, by the time they were 19 years (males 75%, females 71%) 18% before they were 15 years and 43% by 16 years. The average age of smoking initiation is 17.6 years,” she explained.