BETHLEHEM. – On World No Tobacco Day members from the Department of Health (DOH) in the Thabo Mofutsanyana district marched through the streets wearing T-shirts with the message “smoking is addictive, don’t start” and shouted “Down with smoking! Down!”
“We are tired of seeing our young brothers and sisters on the street corners smoking cigarettes and weed. I did not go to work today, instead I joined the march to spread the important message of saying no to smoking,” said Sellwane Mofokeng, a teacher from Bohlokong Primary School.
Many people in the community were not aware of World No Tobacco Day until they saw the march. “This is a big day, in the past this issue didn’t receive a lot of attention. Today people saw us marching with our posters and that made them curious to know the purpose of the day,” said Carine Wagenaar, a social worker at the Bethlehem Child and Family Welfare.
Drug abuse is one of the challenges faced by the Bethlehem community, especially in young people and older men, says SAPS Constable Mojalefa Malakoane, who believes the community needs to be educated on matters such as smoking.
“Education is important and being part of the march I feel I have contributed to the knowledge of my community. Smoking is bad for your health and is addictive. It often also it leads the use of other drug,” said Malakoane.
Learners from LK Ntlabathi and Motshepuwa School, Thembi Miya, Constance Mokoena and Ntaoleng Tshotetsi, told OurHealth that they enjoyed the march and learnt a lot about the illnesses that can be caused by smoking tobacco. “I feel good because we managed to gather the kids and give them information, I hope they use the information. I hope the community also understood why we had the march.”
“The day was a success, as a collective we made the message come out stronger,” said Dr Sarieta Wentzel, local area manager at the Bethlehem DOH.