Close to a decade ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) began its global battle against tobacco usage as it identified the substance as one of the World's leading killers and estimated that nearly one billion people would die from tobacco usage in the 21st century.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Its theme for the year is the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and with more than 170 signatory countries, the WHO further emphasises the steps that need to be taken in the fight against the tobacco-induced epidemic.
As tobacco companies step up their marketing campaigns, particularly in developing countries where regulatory frameworks are perhaps not stringently adhered to, the WHO calls on all countries that have signed the treaty to enforce the resolutions therein. South Africa signed in 2003 and ratified in 2005, pledging to implement the resolutions of the treaty. South Africa has already put many of the advocated measures in place including the raising of taxes and prices of tobacco products, the banning of advertising and promotion of tobacco products, banning smoking in public places such as restaurants and ensuring that health warnings around the dangers of smoking are prominently displayed on the packaging of any tobacco product.
In South Africa, tobacco tax increases led to a doubling of the retail price of cigarettes and a large increase in tax revenues in the 1990s. During the same period, cigarette consumption declined dramatically; approximately 40% of the decrease was due to smokers quitting. The largest decreases were among young people and low-wage earners, those who reduce smoking most when prices increase.
Vanessa Sew Chung Hong, brand manager for Nicorette commented that "legislation restricting people from smoking in public areas has already had a positive impact on encouraging people to give up smoking." This was drawn from the extensive 2010 South African Smoking Survey conducted last year by this leading Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) brand. "Our 2010 survey showed that willpower and NRT are the most popular quitting options," says Sew Chung Hong, "and that support from friends and family is crucial for those trying to quit smoking."
South Africans can therefore expect a continual tobacco tax increase every year plus further legislation around smoking in public areas as the fight against tobacco gathers steam.  Betcher, D et al (2008) WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008 Switzerland: World Health Organisation
 Nicorette SA Smoking Survey 2010Struggling to give up smoking?
There are more than one billion smokers in the world today, many of them trying to quit.
Although barriers to giving up smoking differ according to gender, age and race, the most common and perhaps difficult to overcome is the enjoyment of smoking. We all know the negative effects of smoking but maybe it is important to relook at the benefits of quitting. These include improved lung efficiency, the return of acute taste and smell and an almost 50% decrease in heart disease risk.
The fear of cravings and loss of a mood-regulating strategy are often cited as barriers to quitting. Women, more than men, also report that they worry about putting on weight once they have given up. "It is very difficult to give up using willpower alone," says Hong, "our research has shown that smokers are twice as likely to stop smoking using nicotine replacement therapies."
The World Health Organisation endorses nicotine replacement therapies as "remarkably safe" and "rarely abused". The dose of nicotine a smoker gets from NRT is enough to help with cravings, but not as much nicotine as a smoker gets from cigarettes.
Nicorette is claimed to have a low dependence potential and is much safer than smoking cigarettes.([6,7])
Go to www.nicorette.co.za
for more information to help you identify your dependency levels, the barriers faced when quitting and advice on how to overcome them.  Betcher, D et al (2008) WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008 Switzerland: World Health Organisation
Theobald, W et al (2005) Barriers to Quitting Smoking (2)2 in Insights: Smoking in Wisconsin. Wisconsin: Centre for Tobacco Research and Intervention.
 Garvey AJ et al. Effects of nicotine gum dose by level of gum dependence. Nicotine and Tobacco Research 2000; 53-63
 World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe: Second Conference on the Regulation of Tobacco Dependence Treatment Products. 2000.
 http://www.nicotrol.com/nicotrol_can_help/index.asp [Date accessed - 25 May 2011]
 West R, Raw M, McNeill A. Smoking Cessation Guidelines for Health Professionals: an update. Thorax 2000,55:987-999.
 Molyneux A, Nicotine replacement therapy, BMJ 2004