City of Cape Town plans campaign to move towards ‘smoke-free city’

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The City warned cigarette smoking was linked to ‘the onset of all four of the most common non-communicable diseases: cancer, heart and lung disease, and diabetes’.

The sale of tobacco products may have been recently unbanned under Level 2 of the lockdown, but now the City of Cape Town is planning a campaign – in conjunction with a global initiative – to move towards a “smoke-free city”.

This, to tackle ongoing high levels of smoking – one in four women, and one in two men, according to studies.

The City indicated it would join 70 cities around the world in a new partnership as part of a global public health campaign, the Bloomberg Partnership for Healthy Cities.

Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, explained: “The Partnership for Healthy Cities is a prestigious global network of cities committed to saving lives by preventing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organisation and Vital Strategies. It is a global network of 70 cities where mayors have committed to prevent NCDs – including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and chronic lung disease through proven interventions. The second phase of the partnership launched in 2019.”

Also read: Government moves to implement 100% prohibition of smoking in public areas

Badroodien said the first phase of the campaign had tried to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks.

South African legislators were due to promulgate the National Tobacco Bill in due course. But Badroodien said the City would go further. He explained: “In phase two, we are using similar tactics to create a smoke-free city. According to the South Africa Demographic and Health Survey, 25% of women and 42.9% of men in the Western Cape smoke daily. The goal is to create a smoke-free city through stakeholder engagement, education campaigns and review of internal City policy.

“The City of Cape Town will aim for as many of its buildings as possible to be compliant with the new workplace smoking policy, post intervention.”

The City warned cigarette smoking was linked to “the onset of all four of the most common non-communicable diseases: cancer, heart and lung disease, and diabetes”.

“In addition to the high costs of treating diseases caused by its use, tobacco often killed people at the peak of their wage-earning capacity. This deprives families of their breadwinners, robs nations of a healthy and productive workforce, and contributes to the cycle of poverty that exists in many countries. It threatens global development,” Badroodien argued.

The City’s health authorities would focus on three primary tactics to tackle smoking:

“Policy Changes: City health and human resources, together with the policy unit, have updated the City’s smoking in the workplace policy. This new document is a framework which aims to discourage smoking, as well as protect non-smokers, while environmental health will also play a role in monitoring compliance to this framework.”

“Increased enforcement of tobacco legislation: environmental health, and other City departments, have ramped up enforcement of tobacco legislation within the City. Gaps in law enforcement were identified and roles and responsibilities are being defined. During the festive season, activations were held at road blocks and beaches to educate the citizens on the harms of tobacco use.”

“Media Campaign: City health is creating a tobacco awareness campaign, which is both internally and externally focused. The aims of the campaign are to advertise that the City is going smoke-free and to educate the community about the harms of second-hand smoke.”

Badroodien concluded: “Recent events have forced many people to stub out the habit, but many more are struggling to give up cigarettes as evidenced by the exorbitant prices they were willing to pay for cigarettes. We realise it’s not easy, but the City is doing as much as it can to assist employees and residents to stop smoking.”

Deputy health minister Joe Phaahla was quoted in May as saying that the new bill would allow government to impose a 100% ban on smoking in public areas, BusinessTech reported.

He said that the government was also moving to identify areas that needed strengthening in terms of legislation, including the regulation of e-cigarettes and related products.

The current smoking legislation banned smoking in public places, but allowed food and entertainment businesses the right to designate smoking areas, as long as they did not take up more than a quarter of the establishment’s floor space.

Phaahla was quoted as saying they “want to change the 25% allowed smoking in public areas to 100% prohibition of smoking in public areas.”

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