A recent study shows that South Africa’s cigarette ban in 2020 helped reduce the number of lung disease-related emergency room visits, reports Herald Live.
South Africa banned tobacco sales from March to August 2020 to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In December, the country’s High Court ruled that the measure was unconstitutional. The government is appealing the judgment.
Published in the African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine, the study showed that emergency center visits for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at the George Regional Hospital in the Western Cape fell by 69.28 percent between January and August 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.
“This notable reduction in COPD presentations reduced service pressure of emergency center and most likely benefited patients’ health,” the study states. “Whilst the tobacco sales ban has had detrimental effects on economy, one of the benefits has been a reduction in emergency center attendance of patients with COPD exacerbations compared with that during the same period from the previous year. Further research and policies are needed to ensure ongoing reduction in the prevalence of smoking.”
According to the study, only 9 percent of smokers quit during the lockdown.
An online survey of smokers found that 93 percent maintained their habit by paying up to 250 percent more for illicit products.
South Africa, Botswana and India implemented smoking bans as part of their Covid-19 restrictions. India’s ban lasted six weeks, Botswana’s ban lasted 12 weeks and South Africa’s ban lasted five months.