STATE OF SMOKING IN SOUTH AFRICA - Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

State of smoking in

South Africa

Member of the

South Africa Smoking by the Numbers

Smoking Reduction

The percentage of adult smokers in the US has decreased from 21.6% in 2003 to 18.5% in 2015.

Tobacco Types

The most common type of tobacco is boxed cigarettes at 73%, followed by hand-rolled cigarettes and then cigars.

Tobacco Deaths

The number of tobacco related deaths has decreased from 100 to 70 per 100,000 from 1990 to 2017. With men decreasing 138 to 98 and women 68 to 44.

Breast v Lung Cancer in Women (Deaths, 2017)

Breast: 1.84%, Lung: 1.03%

Media Dialogue

Tobacco use has steadily declined, although the illegal sale of cigarettes remains prevalent as a means to fulfill consumer demand for cheaper products. South African media covers these issues and a growing consumer interest in vaping and other alternatives.
“We have a very strong anti-tobacco campaign in this country, but moving people to quitting is hindered by people’s perceptions about what smoking does.”

– Prof. Solomon Rataemane, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University

Public Smoking


Smoking in public places banned, except for certain designated smoking areas. 

Point of sale Displays


Advertising ban. Banned sales at health and educational establishment

Branded Packs


Legislation requires that 15 percent of the front of a cigarette package and 25 percent of the back display text-only health warnings. Misleading packaging and labeling is prohibited.

Attitudes and Perceptions

How harmful are e-cigs compared to cigarettes?

Perception of relative harm of vaping devices. From the Foundation’s 2017 and 2019 Global Polls, participants were asked, “Do you think smoking e-cigarettes and vaping devices are more or less harmful than smoking regular cigarettes?”

*Data from the 2017 Global Poll


50.7% of nicotine or tobacco product users in South Africa believe it would be too difficult to quit their tobacco consumption (2019 global poll)


In South Africa, 77.1% of e-cigarette users or those aware of vaping devices believe that using vaping devices causes throat cancer (2019 global poll)


62.5% of nicotine or tobacco product users in South Africa disagree that health warnings on packages are exaggerated (2019 global poll)


88.4% of South African nicotine or tobacco product users believe that nicotine is harmful (2019 global poll)


In South Africa, 77.3% of nicotine or tobacco product users believe that tobacco-related cancer is primarily caused by nicotine (2019 global poll)

Have you ever spent money on cigarettes that you knew would be better spent on household essentials like food?

Would an increase in tobacco price have an effect on your current smoking habit?

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