Despite legislation restricting the advertising of tobacco products, the tobacco industry continues to recruit smokers through aggressive ‘€œdark marketing’€ tactics, the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) said in a recent report.

The tobacco industry promotes tobacco products in clandestine ways, particularly enticing women and young people to become smokers, says CANSA’€™s CEO, Sue Janse van Rensburg. The Tobacco Control Act restricts tobacco advertising including ‘€œviral’€ marketing which is a favoured approach to target young people.

‘€œWe want to make everyone aware of the tactics by tobacco brands that lure them into smoking. We’€™re aware that in the past tobacco smoking was made freely available and promoted at exclusive parties – we have evidence of specific brands promoting cigarettes in a supermarket, as well as at a restaurant as recently as November 2011. Beautiful women are used to promote and even distribute free cigarettes in that environment; giving the impression that smoking is ‘€˜cool’€™,’€ says Van Rensburg.

‘€œIt’€™s up to all of us to fight the covert tactics of the tobacco industry and their agents and make the right choice in not supporting it in any way,’€ said Van Rensburg, warning the public and retailers to beware of illegal marketing tactics by tobacco companies. ‘€œGet to know the law around the Tobacco Control Act, as you have the right to a smoke-free environment and we urge you to report any non-compliance to the Environmental Health Offices of the local municipalities.’€

Dangers of smoking

Tobacco use in any form is dangerous to health and even being around someone who smokes, is harmful. Tobacco smoking, including second-hand smoke is known to cause lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.

‘€œA big concern is that of hookah (hubbly-bubbly) smoking, which seems to be a popular pastime at parties with teenagers and students,’€ reads the CANSA report. ‘€œWhile they may think it’€™s safer than cigarettes, in fact it’€™s deadly. Smoking one hookah pipe can give you as much nicotine as smoking 10 cigarettes ‘€“ even after the smoke has passed through the water it still contains high levels of toxins including carbon monoxide and cancer-causing chemicals.’€

Tobacco kills almost six million people a year, an average of one person every six seconds, with the biggest rise in low- and middle-income countries. Over 44 000 people die each year from tobacco related diseases in South Africa.

Source: CANSA


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