Protecting our youth to ensure their future
As we remember Sam Nzima’s iconic 16th June 1976 photograph of Hector Peterson struck by a police bullet at the age of 12, not even a teenager, we need to continue to protect our youth from other deadly dangers.
Tobacco and alcohol both kill people. Sometimes slowly, expectedly and painfully when they cause emphysema or cancer. Sometimes quickly, suddenly and unexpectedly in a car accident, gender based murders and family violence. Either way, tobacco and alcohol kill people prematurely.
All smokers and drinkers will either stop drinking and smoking or die. Soon there will be no customers. The only way that the industries can sustain their businesses is by attracting new customers and their best source of potential customers is the youth.
How can we protect our youth from these tragedies? Here are some suggestions.
- Increase taxes consistently, so tobacco and alcohol products become progressively less affordable
- Introduce large graphic health warnings and messages in plain standardised packaging, as proposed in the Tobacco Bill
- Ban menthol and other flavours
- Ban retail and wholesale display of tobacco products
- Introduce graphic health warnings on consumable, non-medical alcohol products.
- Ban sales of tobacco products in supermarkets and petrol stations (The Netherlands made that decision in March 2020 to be legally implemented by 2022)
- Limit sale of tobacco products to licensed off-sale liquor stores and bone fide tobacco retailers
- Ban use of vending machines to sell tobacco products
- Ban alco-pop drinks and similar products like alcohol suckers
- Ban all alcohol advertising, promotion and sponsorship
- Ban advertising of electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems and devices
- Increase purchase age for tobacco and alcohol to 21 years
- Create smoke-free university and technicon campuses and residences
- Introduce free, trial programme for smoking cessation once a year for every smoker
- Set the blood alcohol content for driving at ZERO
- Pass the Liquor Bill
Banning tobacco like other harmful chemicals
A long-term objective is to ban commercial combustible cigarettes. This can be done in a practical manner when all the other steps have succeeded in reducing smoking prevalence to below say 5%. At this level of consumption it can work. This wouldn’t set a precedent. Government has successfully banned many products such as asbestos, lead paints. Many pesticides, including DDT and dielderin, are banned.
Costs of tobacco outweigh tax fiscus
Consumers contribute about R14 billion in tobacco tax annually in excise and VAT. That sounds like a lot, but it isn’t. Public healthcare costs, loss of productivity, absenteeism and other factors cost the tax payer about R59 billion a year. Tobacco isn’t a benefit to the fiscus, society, employment or people. The loss which cigarettes create is about R45 billion a year. Alcohol and tobacco destroy lives, harm families, damage communities and erode the wealth of our country. We must take drastic and immediate steps to protect our youth and our country
For more information – contact:
TAG Tobacco, Alcohol and Gambling Advisory, Advocacy and Action Group
Contact: Peter Ucko – CEO
Cell: +27 (0) 82 454 9889
Date: 13 June 2020