oa South African Health Review - Tobacco control : chapter 22

Volume 2000, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1025-1715



During the past six years, the government has discouraged tobacco use through public education, support for smoking cessation programmes, and legislation. Taxation has been a key tobacco control measure. Steep tax increases have simultaneously reduced cigarette consumption and increased government excise revenues. Overall, tobacco use has dropped dramatically in South Africa. The prevalence of cigarette smoking among adults has declined, from 34% in 1992 to 24% in 1998. About 42% of men and 11% of women smoke cigarettes. Among adolescents aged 15-19 years, 14% of boys and 6% of girls are current smokers. The Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act No. 12 of 1999 came into effect on 1st October 2000. The Act prohibits all tobacco advertising, sponsorships and promotions; restricts smoking in enclosed public places to specially designated smoking areas; outlaws the free distribution by the trade of tobacco products; and sets maximum limits on the nicotine and tar yields of cigarettes. The Act provoked fierce attacks by the tobacco and allied industries. The industry used the same standard repertoire of arguments that it has used in other countries considering tobacco control legislation. Their arguments were no more successful in South Africa than they were elsewhere. The shift in policy away from a sole focus on public education to creating supportive environments and social norms that discourage tobacco use, has been successful in South Africa. Opportunities for further reducing tobacco use are discussed.

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