HIGHER TOBACCO PRICES COULD SAVE MORE LIVES IN SOUTH AFRICA

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In the recent Budget Speech 2014 announcement, tax on cigarettes is expected to increase by 59 cents bringing hope to the healthcare industry that, by virtue of this increase, the result will be a decrease in premature death and disease caused by tobacco.

According to Graham Anderson, Principal Officer of Profmed, smoking is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs and despite the risks to one’s health being widely known, every year thousands more people take up the habit.

“The increase in tax serves several purposes and one of the most important ones could be the fact that it will deter young people from taking up smoking, benefit health and decrease the enormous pressure being placed on the healthcare industry to treat tobacco related diseases,” says Anderson.

Research by the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) shows that despite the reduction in prevalence, with the enforcement of stricter legislation, smoking remains the single most preventable cause of death with about 44 000 deaths recorded in South Africa every year.

Ahead of World No Tobacco Day on the 31st of May 2014, Anderson says it is important to regularly highlight the health implications to warn potential new smokers. “It is imperative that we raise awareness about smoking and its associated risks. The World Health Organisation has estimated that every year, between 80 000 and 100 000 children take up smoking, a worrying statistic given the long-term health risks.”

He says smokers should also keep in mind the danger that they pose to those around them. “Second-hand smoking can cause as many diseases as first-hand, including cancer, long-term respiratory diseases and heart disease. Children who inhale second-hand smoke are also more likely to contract bronchitis and pneumonia.”

“It is easy to list all of the health reasons for giving up smoking but the reality is that this is often not sufficient enough as an incentive to prevent someone from starting again. As a result, it is important to remember the financial incentives. A smoker that spends R30 a day on the habit will save more than R10 000 a year by quitting and R100 000 over ten years.”

“In addition, one should also consider the financial impact on their financial services products. Smokers pay a higher premium for their life insurance – as they are more at risk of contracting a disease – as well as paying more for life insurance as the increased risk of illness means they are more likely to suffer an early death.”

Anderson says that while quitting smoking can prove extremely difficult, it is an achievable goal. “As many former smokers know, quitting is one of the hardest experiences they will ever undertake, with only a third of people who do so proving successful. However, these people should keep in mind that the benefits are both immediate as well as long-term.”

“Within a year the excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke drops to less than half that of a smoker; and within 5 to 15 years the risk of stroke declines to that of a non-smoker.”

Below, Anderson provides some tips to help smokers who have decided to break the habit:

  • Be fully committed to the cause and remind yourself daily why you want to quit
  • Draw up a plan and stick to it and ensure this plan has a reward system in place for certain milestones
  • Replace negative traits with positives, i.e. eat an apple or take a short walk instead of your regular smoke break.
  • Don’t give up. If you do happen to smoke, try again
  • Remain positive – the first week is the hardest.

 


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