Have you tried to quit? SA to take part in a big tobacco survey ahead of planned new restrictions

Business Insider SA
A sign letting people that smoking is allowed in t
  • SA is due to take part in the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) for the first time next year.
  • Between March and May, more than 11,000 households will be surveyed on their tobacco use, exposure to second-hand smoke, attempts to quit, and awareness of anti-smoking campaigns.
  • That will be handy to keep track of changes as SA introduces new anti-tobacco measures, says the SA Medical Research Council.
  • But standard questions on whether smokers had tried to quit on their own willpower and what kind of communication they saw about the dangers of smoking – in the previous 12 months – may yield weird results.
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South Africa is due to be part of a global survey on smoking for the first time in 2021, ahead – or possibly amid – new restrictions on tobacco use.

Though the results may be a little weird, given the ongoing ban on the sale of tobacco.

It hopes to survey more than 11,000 households between March to May 2021, the SA Medical Research Council says, using the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS).

GATS is used to compile an "atlas" of smoking and anti-smoking measures around the world, with coverage of some 60% of the global population. That did not previously include South Africa.

"South Africa needs up-to-date and quality data to monitor tobacco use," says the MRC. "Such data is particularly important for South Africa at this time given the proposed Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill in 2018 and the need to monitor its impact when it is passed into law and implemented."

That piece of legislation, still on ice, seeks to introduce what the tobacco industry has complained of as harsh new measures, including plain packaging for cigarettes, and a ban on displaying tobacco products for sale.

The data gathered in the survey will likely be heavily influenced by the ongoing prohibition on the sale of tobacco products.

Standard questions include whether smoking is allowed in the home and how much the respondent smokes per day. Householders are asked if they have noticed cigarettes on sale during the previous month, and whether they had noticed information on the dangers of smoking in various types of media.

But some questions also aim establish whether smokers had tried to quit in the previous 12 months, and whether they tried to do so on willpower alone.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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