More anti-smoking measures coming

A FEATURE of downtown Johannesburg in Simmonds Street is the number of smokers decorating the doors of smart buildings, puffing away like mad.

A FEATURE of downtown Johannesburg in Simmonds Street is the number of smokers decorating the doors of smart buildings, puffing away like mad.

Smoking was once touted as a habit of sophisticated, clever women and strong men.

The advertisements were slick, featuring world famous actors and stuntmen. People grew up chanting the slogans of brands like Gunston, Lexington and Peter Stuyvesant.

Opposition to smoking began when medical researchers linked smoking to cancer and other deadly diseases.

Eggs, coffee, bacon and other fast foods, even the humble tea, have at one time or another been branded as killers.

Over time, many habits and foodstuffs have been exonerated, but not tobacco.

Most countries in the world have anti-smoking laws and, in the US, class lawsuits have been filed against tobacco companies for the deaths of relatives.

Smoking has declined in the developed world but is on the rise in Third World countries. These countries, for the most part, lack the finance and laws to curb the habit.

South Africa has a population of 48,7million, of which 44000 die annually from tobacco related products. Even so-called smokeless tobacco, like snuff and chewing tobacco, also causes cancer.

Death by smoking can be prevented if people give up smoking in time, says the Cancer Association of SA on its website. The most prevalent cancer is lung cancer, which few survive.

"Smoking increases the risk of many other cancers, including cancers of the mouth, larynx (voice box), oesophagus (food pipe), liver, pancreas, stomach, kidney, bladder and cervix.

Stringent new laws to prevent smoking and second- hand smoking have been passed by parliament, and will be accompanied by hefty penalties.

The Tobacco Products Control Bill will leave little ground for tobacco companies to manoeuvre. They were previously banned from advertising their products on billboards, newspapers and TV. They will now face stiff fines if they throw parties to entice nonsmokers to start the habit.

They cannot give away their products as samples at gatherings. Balconies, verandas and cars are no longer private spaces.

Regulations are being formulated for a second bill that will show frightful pictures of ravaged human organs on cigarette packages.

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