Dec 4, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Pupils lead the way against smoking through art

Experts often say that young people are most prone to smoking, with nearly nine in ten teenage smokers taking up smoking.

Flavored smokeless tobacco products, such as vaping, have been blamed for to make this unhealthy habit more attractive to youth. But thanks to a tobacco education arts initiative “Sibo Manqoba” (We Are Winners), young people are reclaiming their power and have joined a war to defeat the scourge of child smokers through art.

Since the beginning of The Students 5th through 7th graders from various elementary schools across the country have been working on creative artworks in the form of murals showing how tobacco is affecting their school environment and why people quit smoking.

The campaign, which ran from Led by the Department of Education in partnership with other government agencies and stakeholders, aims to raise awareness of the environmental hazards of tobacco and e-cigarettes. This is in line with the World No Tobacco Day theme – “Danger to our environment”. Partners include the National Council Against Smoking, Cancer Association of SA (Cansa), Medical Research Council (MRC), Heart and Stroke Foundation of SA, and SA Tobacco Free Youth Forum

After months After hard work, three schools in Johannesburg – Sharonlea Primary School in Randburg, Park Primary School in Lenasia and Zibambele Park Primary School in Soweto – were selected as finalists for the school mural art competition. The overall winner will be announced Friday at an event to mark World No Tobacco Day, which is observed on May 31 each year.

Student ambassadors and the winning school’s educator will be inducted as champions for tobacco control, a program created by championed by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and led by the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) in Africa.

Dr. Moeng-Mahlangu, chief director in charge of health promotion and nutrition at the Ministry of Health, said the art project hopes that the art project will make students and communities more aware of the risks associated with tobacco and the importance of the new Tobacco Control Law, which regulates the use of e-cigarettes regulate and totally ban smoking in public.

“The campaign aims to get schools to focus on maintaining a smoke-free environment and enhancing students’ knowledge, attitudes and decision-making skills related to smoking and e-cigarettes to better protect whole school communities,” she said.

Dr. Sharon Nyatsanza, deputy director of the National Anti-Smoking Council, said raising schoolchildren’s awareness of health risks and the importance of a smoke-free environment from a young age will “better prepare them to face peer pressure and temptation.”

“Many of the Children would have parents or relatives who smoke, which normalizes smoking behavior. The tobacco industry also spends billions every year finding ways to make smoking exciting and glamorous. E-cigarettes and other hi-tech electronic vaping devices are a recent influence, with flavors and advertising appealing to the youth. New users quickly become addicted to nicotine, which can be a route to smoking.”

Nyatsanza said tobacco is far more than just a health problem, it is dangerous to the planet. Despite the environmental damage the tobacco industry is causing to the environment with 15 billion cigarette butts dumped on the country’s streets, the industry has not been held accountable by governments.

Now under the banner of advocacy group Protect Our Next, the Council and other organizations including Cansa, MRC and the Heart and Stroke Foundation have launched a campaign: ‘Susa Udoti Wakho – clean up your mess! #yourbuttsstink” to raise awareness of the damage the tobacco industry is doing to the environment, including deforestation, erosion, water pollution and damage to biodiversity, right through to the disposal of cigarette butts.

Cleanup campaign kicks off in Linked to a school education campaign launched earlier this year. Clean-up initiatives will take place around participating schools throughout the week.

The environmental impact of tobacco is staggering, with an annual carbon footprint of approximately 84 million tons.

Nyatsanza said, “That’s Clearly, the tobacco industry should clean up its mess. The tobacco industry makes profits from the destruction of the environment and must be held accountable for the environmental destruction and for the waste and damages, including reimbursement for the costs of collecting this waste. We call on the government to force tobacco companies to use only biodegradable filters and to pay the full cost of cigarette butt disposal and disposal.”

One of the activists, Joash Daniel of Cart Agency, said : “Education is vital, and we must communicate the real truth about tobacco in a powerful way. We continue to engage with communities and schools nationally to promote awareness and education about all forms of tobacco harm and what needs to be done.”

But the vaping industry has defended itself, with CEO of Vapor Products Association of SA Asanda Gcoyi said the global community “recognizes vaping as a powerful harm reduction tool to address the many social challenges communities face, including nicotine addiction.”

“South Africa’s economy would benefit significantly from an integrative harm reduction strategy that drives economic transformation by enacting policies that address the country’s diverse socio-economic imbalances, beginning with fair regulations for the vaping industry and recognition of vaping as a less harmful alternative to vaping Smoking cigarettes,” Gcoyi said.

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