The City of Cape Town continues its campaign to address the country’s tobacco use and are working with the Bloomberg Partnership for Healthy Cities to promote a 100% smoke-free environment for all. This works in conjunction with the new National Tobacco Bill that may soon be instated, which aims to  effectively outlaw smoking in any public spaces.

The bill also includes amendments around stricter rules on where one is allowed to smoke; the inclusion of e-cigarettes under tobacco products; enforcement of plain packaging; the banning of tobacco products advertising at tills; and eliminating cigarette vending machines.

“The City of Cape Town was selected for Phase II of the Bloomberg Partnership for Healthy Cities. For this phase the City has elected to focus on Tobacco use and second hand smoke as the new National Tobacco Bill will be promulgated soon. The City of Cape Town wants to set an example for all residents in promoting a smoke free lifestyle and workplace,” said the Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien in a statement.

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 Organization 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.

City Health has integrated the Partnership for Healthy Cities opportunity into the larger Healthy Lifestyle Programme. In Phase I, City Health focused on reducing sugary drink consumption among the urban population.

“In Phase II, 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,” said Councillor Badroodien.

Cigarette smoking is 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 kills 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.

City Health, together with multiple internal and external partners, has developed a three pronged approach to address tobacco use:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

‘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,’ added Councillor Badroodien.

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