Tobacco Control Data in South Africa

South Africa joined the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on July 18, 2005, with the enactment of its initial Tobacco Products Control Act in 1993. Despite this, subsequent amendments were regularly introduced to fortify the legislation’s loopholes. The Tobacco Products Control Act of 1993 remains South Africa’s principal law for tobacco control, governing advertising, age restrictions, packaging, sales, and the point of sale of tobacco products. The urgent need to enhance tobacco control laws in South Africa is underscored by alarming statistics. In 2012, tobacco smoking resulted in approximately 31,000 deaths, constituting 7% of total deaths across all age groups. The economic cost of smoking in 2016 was approximately R42 billion, accounting for 1% of the GDP. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) for 2021 highlights a concerning tobacco burden in South Africa: 29.4% overall (12.7 million adults) currently use tobacco, with 41.7% of men and 17.9% of women. Additionally, 18.0% of adults (7.7 million) are exposed to tobacco smoke at home. The median monthly expenditure on manufactured cigarettes is 263.1 South African Rands.

Policy analysis reveals progress with the introduction of the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery System Control bill on December 9, 2022. The bill aims to address gaps in the 1993 Tobacco Products Control Act, aligning South Africa with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Key provisions include a ban on indoor smoking, restrictions on cigarette sales through vending machines, plain packaging with graphic health warnings, the prohibition of tobacco product displays at point-of-sale, and regulation of electronic nicotine delivery systems. The bill is currently under parliamentary review and open for public hearing. Coalition members submitted their opinions to the Portfolio Committee on Health in August 2024, emphasizing the need for strengthened public health protection measures. However, there is a notable lack of awareness among young people about tobacco control policies, as revealed by a focused group discussion in August 2023. Addressing this, one of the objectives of the advocacy strategy is to ensure comprehensive awareness among youth, fostering their understanding of tobacco control policies. The coalition remains committed to promoting informed engagement and understanding among the youth, recognizing its pivotal role in achieving robust tobacco control measures in South Africa.

World No Tobacco Day South Africa

On May 31, 2023, Youth in Action (Y-Act) collaborated with Show Me Your Number (SMYN) to observe World No Tobacco Day in Kroondal, Bojanala District, Rustenburg, Northwest, South Africa. The event, attended by 70 community members, including 59 young individuals aged 18-35, aimed to raise awareness about tobacco control and emphasize the detrimental effects of tobacco use. Aligned with Goal 3 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals—ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being—the initiative sought to contribute to the health and well-being of the Kroondal youth and the entire community. The day’s activities commenced with radio interviews conducted by SMYN. The first interview, held on Radio Mafisa 93.4 community radio station, targeted Tswana-speaking listeners aged 18-35, informing them about World No Tobacco Day and the scheduled activities, including a community march and dialogue. Subsequently, SMYN and Y-Act conducted another radio interview on SMYN’s online radio platform, delving deeper into the significance of World No Tobacco Day, tobacco control, and the consequences of tobacco use.

The community then engaged in a successful march through the streets of Kroondal, drawing inspiration from historical practices where marches have been an effective strategy for creating awareness or boycotting a cause. The march successfully captured the community’s attention, leading them to the subsequent community dialogue on tobacco control. 

During the community dialogue, attendees were informed about the adverse effects of tobacco use through discussions on topics such as defining tobacco, nicotine and addiction, secondhand smoking, illicit consumption and purchasing of tobacco, the global impact of tobacco farming on poverty and world hunger, the burden of tobacco usage on the South African health system, and the need for harm reduction provisions on tobacco. Additionally, the community was introduced to the Tobacco Control Products Act and its provisions, marking a significant step toward awareness and understanding within the Kroondal community. The event concluded with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Kroondal community counselor, Mr. Tokolo, and SMYN to continue engaging with the project on the topic of tobacco control.


Coalition Organizations Profile

The South African coalition plays a crucial role during the project period, offering counsel to influence strategic decisions and providing expertise and non-binding advice on overall management. Structured to maximize project success, the coalition monitors progress, creates a unified advocacy voice, increases reach and influence, demonstrates diversity, adds diverse expertise, leverages resources, legitimizes the cause, and elevates the advocacy message. In response to Objective 1 of the project, which emphasizes youth advocates contributing to the adoption and implementation of FCTC-compliant policies, a coalition of nine youth-led organizations has been established to address this objective in South Africa. Here’s an overview of the key organizations within the coalition:

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