Vital Strategies and the American Cancer Society released the Tobacco Atlas this past week after the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health held in Cape Town.
The Tobacco Atlas is aimed at exposing the harm done by the tobacco industry across the globe.
Smoking has come into focus in the last two weeks after the Department of Health’s Direct-General Precious Matsoso confirmed that proposals to change South Africa’s smoking laws would be presented by the end of this month.
The proposals include a blanket ban on indoor public smoking, as well as new distance limits when smoking near entrances. A number of cigarette advertising changes have also been proposed, including that cigarettes may no longer be publicly displayed by retailers.
According to the Tobacco Atlas, more than 42 100 South African are killed by tobacco-related diseases each year. More than 55 000 children between the ages of 10 and 14 years of age smoke, as well as 6 321 000 adults (those over the age of 15 years), smoke on a daily basis.
The report also states that complacency in the face of the tobacco epidemic insulates South Africa’s tobacco industry and ensures that the toll of tobacco-related deaths will grow each year.
Despite the high number of smokers in the country, the Atlas found that South Africa is below average in the use of smokeless tobacco. This includes chewing tobacco. The Atlas also reports that 12 900 metric tonnes of tobacco was produced in South Africa during 2014.
While it still remains to be seen whether the new smoking regulations will make any sort of a dent in the local tobacco industry, the combined revenues of the world’s largest tobacco companies sit at $346-billion. This is 20% larger than South Africa’s Gross National Income of South Africa.
“The economic cost of smoking in South Africa amounts to R59.1-billion. This includes direct costs related to healthcare expenditures and indirect costs related to lost productivity due to early mortality and morbidity,” the report read.