South African Medical Journal
The opinions of a representative sample of adult South Africans about the effects of smoking on health and their attitudes toward tobacco control measures were surveyed by means of an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Seventy-five per cent of the respondents were black and 55.3% were female. More than 50% of blacks and Asians (61.7% and 53.2%) were non-smokers, whereas 52.1% of ‘coloureds’ were current smokers and 23.8% of whites ex-smokers. The majority of smokers (68.5%) acknowledged the harmful effects of direct smoking and a larger percentage of non- and ex-smokers (79.7% and 77% respectively) shared this view. A similar trend was observed in beliefs about passive smoking. Seventy-five per cent of participants felt that tobacco sales to minors should be banned and 55.8% thought that taxes on tobacco products should be increased. There was substantial white opposition to measures that prohibit tobacco companies from sponsoring sporting events. Most respondents felt that tobacco advertising should be banned on television (59.7%), radio (60.1%), in newspapers (58.4%), on billboards (58.7%) and in cinemas (59.3%). The results indicate that in the main the public supports the introduction of the measures proposed in the draft Tobacco Products Control Act and even more extensive legislation to control tobacco consumption. This augurs well for future strategies aimed at tobacco control in South Africa.