Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA)

TOBACCO PRODUCTS CONTROL AMENDMENT BILL


The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (DENOSA) supports the Tobacco Amendment Bill.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN), of which DENOSA is member, states that two of the fundamental responsibilities of the nurse are to promote health and to prevent illness, and that, in addition, the nurse shares with other citizens the responsibility of initiating and supporting action to meet the health and social needs of the public. Health problems caused by smoking are regarded as being highly preventable.

The direct and indirect effects of smoking are detrimental to the health of the nation. It is well known that tobacco use is a major cause of heart disease, cancer, stroke and emphysema, resulting in over three million deaths annually world wide. Tobacco is also addictive and therefore makes it very difficult for the smoker to stop the habit.

It is evident from the media that it is being argued that this amendment Bill impacts on individual rights. These arguments are not supported:

a) The limitation of the individuals right to smoke where he/she wants to is reasonable and justifiable in terms of section 36(1) (Limitation of rights) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act No.108 of 1996 on the limitation of rights) as the purpose is to prevent neutral harm. The purpose therefore being to decrease smoking in vulnerable group such as the young and unborn. It has further been proven that effective bans on tobacco advertising have decreased tobacco sales.

b) From the annual report of the RSA Tobacco Board for the period April 1994 to March 1995, it is clear that the number of tobacco producers have reduced from more than 1800 in 1985 to less than 800. This phenomenon in itself implies that many jobs have already been lost. The same report further indicates that although tobacco production in South Africa has decreased, the consumption of tobacco has increased. DENOSA acknowledges that employment and poverty are important factors that impact on the health of the nation. However, seen in the light of the above-mentioned report, the arguments around the fact that the right of employment in the tobacco industry may eventually be restricted by this Bill, is not supported.

c) It is also argued that recreational opportunities may be affected due to the withdrawal of sponsorships by Tobacco companies. DENOSA acknowledges the importance of recreational opportunities for the mental of the nation. However this debate cannot be supported in view of the fact that the sponsorship of many sporting events have changed from tobacco sponsors to other sponsors, e.g. two recent examples of replacement of Tobacco sponsorship for sporting events is Standard Bank now sponsoring cricket and Vodacom will be sponsoring soccer in future.

Notwithstanding these important issues, DENOSA supports the Amendment Bill and the ICN statement that member associations co-ordinate efforts with other national anti-smoking groups to bring to the attention of their governments the negative effects of tobacco on health and encourage their governments to reduce, discourage and eradicate the use of tobacco.

ICN - positive Statement
Smoking and Health
The Code for Nurses adopted by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) states that two of the fundamental responsibilities of the nurse are to promote health and to prevent illness, and, that, in addition, the nurse shares with other citizens the responsibility for initiating and supporting action to meet the health and social needs of the public. Health problems caused by smoking are regarded as being highly preventable.

Despite the devastating evidence of smoking's dangers to health, global consumption has increased by nearly 75% over the past two decades, and the worldwide cost in preventable deaths now approaches 2.5 million a year. Evidence is growing that involuntary exposure to cigarette smoke causes more lung cancer deaths than any other pollutant. There has been a noted increase in the prevalence of smoking in women and adolescent girls.

Although the health consequences of tobacco are now well known, measures to deal with them so far are woefully inadequate. Therefore, the International Council of Nurses and its member associations make a commitment to develop methods to reduce and eliminate smoking among nurses and to prevent the initiation of the smoking habit among student nurses. ICN confirms its no smoking policy at its meetings.

ICN condemns the use of the threat of trade sanctions to compel nations to increase importation of tobacco products, and supports efforts by member associations to obtain cessation of this practice by governments.

Further, ICN encourages member associations to co-ordinate efforts with other national anti-smoking groups to bring to the attention of their governments the negative effects of tobacco on health and encourage their governments to reduce, discourage and eradicate the use of tobacco.

ICN member associations should also commit themselves to encourage their governments to develop policies that ban tobacco advertising and promotion; require prominent and significant tobacco warnings on all tobacco products; ban smoking in public areas; provide public education campaigns aimed at eliminating tobacco use; and provide incentives to tobacco farmers to make the transition from tobacco to alternative crops.

Adopted in 1989
Last reviewed in 1991
Updated (CNR additions) in 1993

Related Position Statements:
Health hazards
Occupational health and safety for nurses
Nurses' role in the prevention and early detection of cancer