Hooked for life – How big tobacco companies seduce youth – CANSA

Available for download:

CANSA Campaign Logo (jpg): English | Afrikaans

Infographic: Tobacco Companies Target Youth (pdf) English | Afrikaans

Powerpoint: Tobacco Companies Target Youth (pdf) English | Afrikaans

Hooked for Life – How Big Tobacco Companies Seduce Youth

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) partners with the World Health Organization http://www.who.int/  to highlight risks associated with tobacco use as part of World No Tobacco Day (31 May).  The aim is to advocate for effective policies to lower tobacco use. #WorldNoTobaccoDay

Globally the focus is on the link between tobacco and heart and other cardiovascular diseases including stroke, which combined are the world’s leading causes of death. Says Elize Joubert, CANSA’s CEO, “In South Africa, we’re concerned about the burden of tobacco and especially about the tactics adopted by the tobacco industry to target youth. Research shows tobacco use is often initiated and established during adolescence and young adulthood.”

Smoking remains a major preventable cause of disease and premature death globally http://www.cansa.org.za/avoid-tobacco/ . Annually, the global tobacco epidemic kills over 7 million people.  South Africa’s comprehensive Tobacco Control strategy over the last 20 years has been effective in dropping smoking use per capita – according to the SA National Health and Nutrition Survey 2013.  It showed 32.8% of men had ever smoked compared to 10.1 % of females.

The initial success of legislation of the past 20 years such as the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act No.12 (1999), hikes in excise duty on cigarettes, and health promotions to educate on risks of tobacco use have led to a 30 % decrease in smoking among school learners.

However, a recent increase in smoking has been noted among youth (particularly girls) in SA from 2008 to 2011, according to the Global Youth Tobacco Surveys.


Tobacco companies are engaged in systematic market research generating data on population trends, smoking patterns and attitudes towards smoking. Research revealed that 90% of smokers start the habit by age 18 and 99% start by age 26.

By altering the taste, smell and other sensory attributes of products, tobacco manufacturers entice new users, mostly youth, to start and continue smoking. They maximise the appeal of tobacco products in this age group, by means of introducing the following chemical additives:

  • Levulinic acid to reduce the harshness of nicotine; make smoke feel smoother and less irritating.
  • Flavourings, such as chocolate and liquorice, to boost sweetness of tobacco; mask the harshness of the smoke.
  • Bronchodilators to expand lungs’ airways, making it easier for tobacco smoke to pass into the lungs.
  • Menthol to cool and numb throat, reducing throat irritation; making smoke feel smoother.

“CANSA appeals to young people, be aware of these tactics and understand that these alterations to products while enhancing the experience, do nothing to reduce the long-term negative effects of smoking or the risk for several cancers,” added Joubert. #NoTobacco

Furthermore, CANSA warns against the use of hubbly bubbly, hookah pipes or water pipes http://www.cansa.org.za/hubbly-bubbly-or-hookah-smoking-increases-cancer-risk/. Popular among youth when socialising with friends, it’s important to note that tobacco is no less toxic in a hookah pipe than in other tobacco products. Water in the hookah does not filter out the toxic ingredients in the tobacco smoke. Hookah smokers may actually inhale more tobacco smoke than cigarette smokers do, because of the large volume of smoke inhaled in one smoking session. The sale of hookahs and products is prohibited by law to anyone under the age of 18.

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) http://www.cansa.org.za/legal-status-e-cigarettes-in-sa/ and similar devices are frequently marketed as aids to quit smoking or as ‘healthier’ alternatives to tobacco.

Joubert states, “However, this has not been proven. They contain nicotine, so they’re addictive and may encourage novice users to later switch to combustible cigarettes. They’re particularly harmful and addictive to people under the age of 25, as their brains are still developing. This makes it easier for them to get addicted to nicotine after using even small amounts of e-cigarettes, which also contain other harmful chemicals. It’s rather recommended to quit smoking by proven treatments.”

CANSA encourages young smokers who have started using any tobacco product to get support to quit. CANSA has a free online eKickButt programme that helps with quitting smoking (www.ekickbutt.org.za). Counselling and medication can more than double the chance of a smoker to succeed when attempting to quit.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2556031/

Smoking Robs Your Health and Your Wallet – CANSA

Tobacco use is a threat to any person, regardless of gender, age, and race, cultural or educational background that causes over 18 types of cancer, and accounts for over 20% of cancer deaths worldwide. CANSA advocates stopping the use of any and all tobacco products.

Tobacco can be found in many forms, and all tobacco use is harmful. “People only think of cigarette smoking when you talk about tobacco, but it goes beyond that. They need to be aware that hubbly bubbly and e-cigarettes are just as harmful to your health and the health of those around you. It’s not just the smoker who has increased risk of disease, but also people exposed to second-hand smoke,” says CANSA Health Specialist, Prof Michael Herbst.

Tobacco Products Expensive

On top of the health implications, tobacco products are getting more expensive and are creating a huge negative impact on the economy.

“The tobacco industry produces and markets products that kill millions of people prematurely, rob households of finances that could have been used for food and education, and impose immense healthcare costs on families, communities and countries,” says Dr Oleg Chestnov, World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Assistant Director-General for Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) and Mental Health.

“There is so much more you can do with an average R30 a day, instead of buying a pack of cigarettes. Have you thought about that? Giving up smoking one pack a day, will free up close to R1 000 a month, which can be used in better ways than harming your health, and the health of those around you. The financial impact is huge,” adds Herbst.

Hookah, or hubbly bubbly use is especially concerning among the youth. The tobacco is no less toxic in a hookah pipe and the water in the hookah does not filter out the toxic ingredients in the tobacco smoke. Hookah smokers may actually inhale more tobacco smoke than cigarette smokers do, because of the large volume of smoke they inhale in one smoking session. In South Africa, hubbly and their related tobacco products, fall under the definition of ‘tobacco product’ as indicated in the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act (2007). This means that its use and sale have to comply with the regulations that apply to a tobacco product in the country. This includes the prohibition of the sale of hookahs and their products to anyone under the age of eighteen.

Electronic cigarettes and similar devices are frequently marketed as aids to quit smoking, or as healthier alternatives to tobacco. This has not been proven, and e-cigarettes are not a better alternative to cigarettes. They still contain harmful chemicals, and it’s rather recommended to quit smoking by proven treatments. CANSA has a e-Kick Butt programme, which assists with quitting smoking (www.ekickbutt.org.za),” continues Herbst.

Know the law – it’s Your Right to a Smoke-free World

CANSA has played a significant role in contributing to tobacco control legislation in South Africa. Every person should be able to breathe tobacco-smoke-free air. Smoke-free laws protect the health of non-smokers. Report offenses here

  • Legislation is very clear about where people may smoke and where smoking is prohibited
  • It’s your right to complain when someone smokes in your presence
  • It’s also your right to take remedial steps if someone smokes in any area where smoking is prohibited
  • Adults may not smoke in a car when a passenger under 12 years is present
  • Smoking is not allowed in premises (including private homes) used for commercial childcare activities, such as crèches, or for schooling or tutoring
  • No person under 18 may be allowed into a designated smoking area
  • No smoking in partially enclosed public places such as balconies, covered patios, verandas, walkways, parking areas, etc.
  • The fine for the owner of a restaurant, pub, bar and workplace that breaks the smoking law is a maximum of R50 000 and for the individual smoker R500
  • The tobacco industry can no longer use ‘viral’ marketing like parties to target young people
  • The sale of tobacco products to and by persons under the age of 18 years is prohibited
  • Cigarette vending machines that sell tobacco products cannot be used to sell other products like crisps, chocolates etc.

Download all the materials and infographics here