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Tough tobacco control legislation is needed to save lives in South Africa. This was the message which emerged as more than 500 delegates gathered here Monday to discuss health-related issues to celebrate World Environmental Health Day.

"If you check the figures, it is estimated that tobacco kills almost six million people a year, and in South Africa, 44,000 people die each year as a result of smoking. So, we are here today to raise awareness about these issues," said Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla.

Young South Africans are among those who smoke heavily and the trade in illicit cigarettes exacerbates the situation.

"We are working with different stakeholders to monitor our borders because we have got Swaziland and Mozambique as our neighbours and that's where the illicit cigarettes gain entry into South Africa," says the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Health from northeastern Mpumalanga Province, Gillion Mashego.

Plans are also afoot to enforce bans on tobacco advertising. As the conference concludes on Tuesday, delegates are expected to come up with resolutions to help improve health standards in South Africa and discourage people from smoking.


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