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Investors are lining up to join the vapour products market

Entrepreneurs
Johannesburg - With e-cigarettes having gained much traction in South Africa and across the globe, entrepreneurs have also begun to invest in a market expected to grow exponentially in the next decade.

One such entrepreneurs are the De Vries family.

Adrian de Vries, his wife Sharon and daughter Shane founded Vape Africa in 2012 after Adrian and his wife had had enough of smoking combustible cigarettes.

De Vries said after they had successfully migrated from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes they saw a market for vapour products.

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Daryl Cura demonstrates an e-cigarette at a vape store in Chicago. AP Photo

“Our company started as an alternative to smoking, aimed to provide products at an affordable price for all who wanted to stop or feel healthier with less coughing and many of the side effects of smoking many smokers complain about,” De Vries said.

Expanding

The Cape Town-based company currently resells its products in 60 Spar stores in the Western Cape and will be expanding to other regions this year.

While there had been a divide in opinion on how safe vaping products really are, estimates are that the industry would continue to experience phenomenal growth in the coming years.

BIS Research estimated the global vapour industry would grow by 22 percent by 2025 with a total market value of R50 billion.

The growth of the market is attributed to be a key trigger in the consolidation currently happening in the tobacco industry such as the recent $49.4 billion (R663.54 billion) takeover of Reynolds by British American Tobacco.

De Vries said the company had experienced phenomenal growth since it came on to the scene.

“Within our first year we sold thousands of units to those wanting to quit cigarettes in the past. We continue to sell thousands of units annually; the key to being successful in this business is to sell top quality products.”

Last week the Vapour Product Association held a panel discussion on the need to regulate the industry in South Africa. The body represents manufactures, retailers and wholesalers of vapour products in the country.

Read also: Rush to launch e-cigs

Deon Human, the co-founder of Africa Harm Reduction Centre, said vaping provided the country’s estimated 7 million smokers with “a get out of jail free card”.

However, Richard van Zyl-Smit, head of Lung Research Unit at the University of Cape Town, said legislators must keep in mind the position taken by the World Health Organisation with regards to vaping.

“Health professionals and legislators needed to consider that vaping did not provide an alternative to smoking that was 100percent safe,” Van ­Zyl-Smit said.

De Vries said the over ­regulation of the industry might lead to the growth in the black market and inferior products getting into hands of consumers.

“The lowlight of this industry is the uncertainty in legislation, and how government intends to regulate the industry. It will be disheartening for government to limit access to these devices that help people quit inhaling smoke.”

Kgosi Letlape, president of the Health Professionals Council of SA, said legislators must not deny smokers an alternative that was more effective. “The country urgently requires less harmful, alternative to tobacco smoking that was affordable and accessible to all LSM groups in South Africa,” Letlape said.

BUSINESS REPORT

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