Utilisation of smoking cessation aids among South African adult smokers: findings from a national survey of 18 208 South African adults

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Utilisation of smoking cessation aids among South African adult smokers: findings from a national survey of 18 208 South African adults

Agaku, I., Egbe, C.O. and Ayo-Yusuf, O.A., 2021.

While several cessation aids exist in South Africa there is limited data showing the utilization and access to these resources. This study examined the usage of various cessation aids among current South African smokers who had ever attempted to stop smoking. Data came from a large, cross-sectional online web-based survey of 18 208 South African adults aged 18 years or older conducted in 2018. Overall, the survey found that 22.4% of the study population were current smokers of any combustible tobacco product. Awareness of cessation aids among current smokers of any combustible tobacco product was as follows: smoking cessation counselling programmes, 50.8%; nicotine replacement therapy, 92.1%; and prescription cessation medication, 68.2%. Awareness of cessation aids was lowest among Black Africans, men, and persons with little or no income. Among current combustible smokers who attempted to quit in the past, ever e-cigarette users were more likely than never e-cigarette users to have ever used any cessation aid. The percentage of adults who quit within the past year who reported ever use of various cessation aids was as follows: ever used any cessation aid, 36.6%; ever used nicotine replacement therapy, 26.7%; ever used prescription medication, 18.4%; and ever used cessation counseling, 8.9%. These findings show that utilization of counseling is very low in South Africa despite its effectiveness, affordability, and accessibility. The higher usage of cessation aids among e-cigarette users may suggest that any putative benefits of e-cigarettes on cessation may be partly attributable to pharmacotherapy/counselling given simultaneous use patterns among past quit attempters using e-cigarettes. Comprehensive tobacco control and strategies can help decrease tobacco use.