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Teenagers are persistently targeted by tobacco campaigns in South Africa

To protect the youth targeted by the tobacco industry, regulatory loopholes pertaining to the sale of tobacco products must be strictly regulated, says Health-E News.

The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS-SA) says that both old and new tobacco products are aimed mostly at young people.

According to Dr. Catherine Egbe, the Principal Investigator of the GATS-SA survey, the average age of initiation to smoking in the region is 17.6 years. Approximately 74% of adult smokers started as adolescents. And 18% started smoking before the age of 15, while 43% started smoking by the age of 16.

Targets are young people.

“We realize that many people who use drugs today became addicted to nicotine first, so regulatory lapses are costly to the country,” said Egbe.

She stated that it begs the question as to why there are so many minors smokers when the legal age for purchasing tobacco products is eighteen.

“Why is the average age 17.6?” Because a lot is occurring in regulatory loopholes that must be closed to protect children”,

During a webinar on tobacco products hosted by the National Department of Health, Egbe shared his thoughts. The department has proposed a new bill to control tobacco products and electronic delivery systems, which will significantly alter South Africa’s smoking laws.

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The regulations include a ban on smoking indoors and in certain outdoor areas. In addition, plain packaging with graphical health warnings is likely.

Egbe stated that young people require all available information on the effects of tobacco products because the majority of them become smokers without fully comprehending the dangers.

“We must ensure that the law is robust and geared toward the protection of children. New products are entering the South African market, and their consumption is on the rise. Therefore, new products not covered by the current law must be brought under the regulatory framework of tobacco control, as stated by Egbe.

Spaza shop’s most culpable customers

Egbe stated that spaza shops are where the majority of young people purchase tobacco products.

“Our youngest demographic, those aged 15 to 24 years, is most likely to purchase from spaza shops. Egbe stated that action must be taken.

According to the World Health Organization, up to fifty percent of tobacco users will die from their habit. As it kills more than 8 million people annually, with more than 7 million of those deaths attributable to direct tobacco use and approximately 1.2 million attributable to secondhand smoke exposure.

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