Will vaping products be regulated separately from traditional tobacco products in South Africa?

Vaping organisations have again pleaded with government to allow products to be regulated separately from traditional tobacco products.

With government yet to make a decision on how vaping will be regulated, vape organisations are doing all they can to convince government to allow for separate regulations.

Consumer advocacy group Vaping Saved My Life (VSML) has launched a campaign to help educate consumers on the benefits of vaping, and to address myths associated with it. They have also created an online petition to support the campaign, calling for vaping products to be regulated separately from traditional tobacco products in South Africa. So far , the campaign has garnered around 4,500 signatures since its launch in mid February.

As part of the campaign, the advocacy group has also collaborated with a handful of smokers on social media who have chosen to explore a different lifestyle, and are participating in a 90-Day Challenge to quit smoking and take up vaping. The participants have been documenting their real-life experience on Facebook and Twitter, while encouraging the vaping community to sign the petition calling for vaping products to be regulated separately from tobacco products.

“The campaign is striving to address several points: Highlighting the fact that although not completely risk-free, vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking. This is important as it is well understood that the majority of long-term smokers fail repeatedly at quitting and resign to their fate of serious disease and or premature death.

“Vaping could provide these users with a far less harmful alternative and provide them with an opportunity to escape smoking-related diseases.”

The campaign also calls for government to exclude e-cigarettes/vaping from the proposed 2018 Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill.

South Africa has a proud history in harm reduction. VSML believes this needs to be extended into the tobacco sphere if we are to realise non-communicable disease/public health targets.

Asanda Gcoyi, CEO of Vapour Products Association of South Africa (VPASA) has confirmed that there has been communication with government around the regulation of vaping, however the engagements have been disappointing. While hopeful that vaping will be separately regulated in South Africa, Gcoyi admits her concern about governments views towards vaping.

“From what we can tell, government’s position at this point is motivated by an absolutist view which seems to favour no distinction between these two very different nicotine products. In a sense, government does not seem to embrace tobacco harm reduction, despite the fact that the even the WHO includes harm reduction within its definition of tobacco control.”

“Insisting on categorising tobacco and electronic vapour products (EVPs) under one umbrella gives the impression that they are equally harmful to one’s health. However, as research by reputable international organisations such as Public Health England, the Royal College of Physicians, the US Academy of Sciences, Cancer Research UK etc shows, vaping is up to 95% less harmful than smoking.”

Lumping the two together is likely to perpetuate the false perception that they are the same, when in fact, they are not.

“Such a perception is likely to discourage many smokers who do not wish to quit from considering vaping as an alternative source of nicotine, thus continuing their harmful addiction to combustible tobacco. Vaping does not contain tobacco.”



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