Tobacco Use In South Africa Remains High

Tobacco use in South Africa Remains High

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Tobacco use in South Africa Remains High, with smokers starting at a younger age

The prevalence of smoking in South Africa remains high compared to other countries, with an average of 8.5 cigarettes smoked per day by daily smokers.

This information is based on the 2021 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) South Africa report, released by the Department of Health on Thursday.

Based on the most recent data from GATS, sampled from 7 245 households, it was found that the prevalence of tobacco use in South Africa is 29.4%.

The data also revealed that a higher percentage of men (41.7%) are currently using tobacco compared to women (17.9%).

Lead investigator, Dr Catherine Egbe from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), stated that 21.2% of adults in South Africa smoke daily, while 4.6% smoke occasionally.

The highest prevalence of tobacco is found in the Northern Cape, followed by the Western Cape, while the lowest is in Limpopo.

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Shifting her focus to the age of initiation of tobacco use, Egbe said the average age of initiation was 17.6 years old among adults aged between 20 and 34. 

Meanwhile, 20.9% of urban residents and 13.5% of rural residents initiated smoking before the age of 15. 

In addition, Egbe stated that 33.9% of daily tobacco users smoke within five minutes of waking up. 

E-cigarettes and hookah pipe

Meanwhile, 2.2% said they were currently using e-cigarettes, of which 3.8% are men and 0.7% are women. 

Of those using e-cigarettes, 70.3% cited enjoyment, 67.5% cited flavour, 45.1% perceived it as less harmful than tobacco, while 43.5% said their use was influenced by friends or family members who use e-cigarettes. 

The study also found that 3.1% of adults reported smoking hookah pipe or hubbly bubbly. 

“The mean age of initiation for those who have ever smoked water pipe was 21.1 years,” Egbe said. 

For those aged between 15 and 24, the average age of initiation was 17.3 years old. 

Among adults currently smoking tobacco, 80.9% attempted to quit without assistance, 4.1% used pharmacotherapy, and 42.9% received advice to stop from their healthcare provider.

Data also shows that 74.4% of adults who visited public places were exposed to second-hand smoke (SHS) at bars, taverns, shebeens or nightclubs. 

Meanwhile, 19.9% were exposed to SHS at school, 16.0% at tertiary institutions and 11.3% in cafes. 

Data indicates that men spent slightly more on cigarettes, R273.20, while women spent around R207.20 monthly. 

Tobacco use in South Africa Remains High, with smokers starting at a younger age

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