African National Congress
NATIONAL HEALTH COMMITTEE
SUBMISSION TO THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HEALTH ON THE TOBACCO PRODUCTS CONTROL AMENDMENT BILL
1. The National Health Committee of the African National Congress welcomes the introduction of the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill by the Minister of Health, Dr Nkosazana Zuma. As with other controversial legislation, the Minister has shown that the health of the people of this country is of the utmost importance. It is also important at this juncture to note that in enacting this legislation the Minister is fulfilling the promises to the people of this country in terms of health, as outlined in the document of the African National Congress entitled. A National Health Plan for South Africa. This Plan had gone through a process of 4 years of discussions with various stakeholders including communities whose voice often is not heard. Those detractors who state that the Minister is acting upon unfounded opinion could not be further from the truth.
2. The Health Plan of the ANC recognises that promoting good health and preventing disease is central to the success of the Primary Health Care philosophy of the government. The plan goes farther to recognise that this may include a combination of austere measures including legislation, fiscal measures such as taxation, controls on advertising, intersectoral programmes, environmental monitoring and education.
3. The effects of tobacco are well documented. Tobacco kills about 3 million people per year. It is estimated that by 2020 there will be 10 million deaths per year annum worldwide if current smoking levels continue. At present, 1 in 17 deaths in the world are caused by tobacco. It is estimated that by the year 2020, tobacco will cause I in 8 of all deaths in the world. The World Bank estimates that "unless smoking behaviour changes, three decades from now, premature deaths caused by tobacco in the developing world will exceed death from AIDS, TB, and complications of childbirth combined." Furthermore, seventy percent (70 %) of future deaths from smoking will be in the developing world. In South Africa, the National Cancer Registry estimates that about 89 000 premature deaths per year would be expected in the future on the basis of current smoking patterns.
4. The effects of passive smoking are equally devastating. Research has shown that passive smoking causes lung cancer in non-smokers, as well as heart disease. It has also been shown that smoking by parents caused bronchitis, pneumonia, colds, wheezing and asthma in children. As a result of this research, the National Health Committee Supports the ban on smoking in public places. Furthermore we believe that it is a weak and flawed argument to equate the use of tobacco, to environmental factors such as air pollution and fumes from industrial production.
5. Aside from the damaging medical effects of tobacco, the economic costs to the country are staggering. In 1994 R8.5 billion was spent by the public on tobacco products. In 1994 tobacco use resulted in lost productivity of R2.5 billion, a staggering 16% of the health budget. Already the tobacco industry in the United States has had to pay out millions of dollars in law suits brought against the industry and to recover smoking - related health care costs.
6. It is ironic that at a time when the World Health Organisation and many western countries are introducing measures to reduce tobacco consumption, the major tobacco companies are targeting third world countries such as South Africa. Research by the National Cancer Institute of South Africa has shown that tobacco marketing has a greater influence in encouraging adolescents to take up smoking than peer pressure or exposure to parents who smoke. In September this year the World Health Organisation director-general said that smoking was potentially the biggest (global health threat and called for a total advertising ban on tobacco products. There is no doubt that the advertising of tobacco products has enormous influence over especially \young children and encourages them to smoke. The ANC National Health Committee therefore also supports a total ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship.
7. In conclusion, the National Health Committee of the African National Congress supports this Bill as introduced by the Minister of Health, Dr Nkosazana Zuma. We firmly believe that this will reduce the many harmful effects of tobacco consumption, and call upon the Portfolio Committee to pass this vital legislation.