South Africa: new law could see vaping “go up in smoke"
CONSUMERS in South Africa would find it harder to vape than smoke cigarettes if a new law is passed.
A consumer group has also warned the country’s vaping industry could go "up in smoke" under new government proposals.
The new law - The Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill - which is out for comment and consideration, proposes to bring e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn products under regulatory control for the first time.
Under the proposals, e-cigarettes will no longer be available in vending machines, will be sold in plain packaging and banned for under-18s.
E-cigarettes users will also face tight restrictions on where they can vape as the bill proposes more stringent limits on smoking in public places than the Tobacco Products Control Act, which it will replace.
The Vapour Product Association, which represents companies that sell e-cigarettes, is now planning a national campaign to oppose the proposed law, saying it could destroy the vaping industry and make it easier for people to smoke.
The association said Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi had failed to consult the industry and had taken an overzealous approach to regulation that failed to acknowledge the benefits vaping provided.
"The measures proposed will in effect make it harder for a consumer to vape in South Africa than it is to smoke. "Ultimately, this will halt current smokers and reverse existing vapers from starting or continuing the use of a scientifically proven harm-reduced product," it said in a statement.
Vapour Product Association director Kabir Kaleechurn has suggested the vaping industry should instead be seen as a partner to the health agenda in South Africa, as seen in other countries.
He said: "Should all smokers move to harm-reduced vaping products, the impact is bound to be extremely positive from a non-communicable diseases point of view. This has proved to be the case in the US, UK, Germany, France and other members of the EU.”
But their argument is unlikely to be accepted by ministers who remain unconvinced that it is a healthier alternative.
The health department’s Lorato Mahura argued that electronic delivery systems, which contain nicotine, pose health risks.
"The reality is they are not as toxic as cigarettes but are still toxic. Nicotine is harmful over time," she said.
Public Health England, meanwhile, reported earlier this year that vaping was 95 per cent healthier than smoking cigarettes.