The City of Tshwane has embarked on a campaign to free the capital of tobacco in conjunction with the Tobacco Free Generation organisation (TFG). TFG visited the Prospectus Secondary School in Eersterust, in the east of Pretoria on Friday.
TFG is an organisation from Singapore which tries to change the way anti-smoking campaigns have been run in the past. Their aim is not to blame the smoker but the tobacco industry and to create a generation that stops smoking.
The hour long presentation seems to have hit home, and although the program is not aimed at getting people to stop smoking but rather to prevent them from starting, a 17-year-old decided to quit his eight year old habit.
“From now on, it doesn’t mean if you can’t quit, but let’s be a generation of 2000, let’s be a better generation for this year.”
The program is aimed at creating next tobacco free generations by preventing young children to smoke.
A Lung surgeon from Singapore, Dr. Heng Nung Koong, is the founder of the organisation and has visited several schools in Tshwane. He says there is a lack of early education against smoking for pre-teens and teenagers.
“In my 30 years of medical career, I have seen tremendous tragedy, death, pain and agony. Patients come to us with very advanced disease whereby it’s beyond cure. Our education to prevent children from starting is weak. We continue to show death, diseases in our education material failing to recognise that these imagery discourages our young people. Fearmongery doesn’t help. Instead you need to have positive imagery, positive peer pressure.”
Koong trained a group of young South Africans as Tobacco Free Generation ambassadors. Prince Motloung says he got involved because he saw how smoking, not only tobacco but also drugs, changed his friends at school.
“I’m educating people that we don’t blame them, we don’t blame them for smoking, we just blame the tobacco industries. And in future they will see that smoking is not worth it, and they are damaging themselves and they are damaging their lungs, they are killing themselves at the expense of making the tobacco industries rich.”
Lehlogonolo Moagi of the department of health and social development at the City of Tshwane says the program will be rolled out to various schools as smoking and drug abuse is a problem in the city.
” There’s a policy that’s been adopted, a non-smoking policy, so we decided rather let us start at the schools.”
Tobacco related illnesses kill an estimated 6 million people per year.