CAPE TOWN- South African health organisations have called on government to regulate e-cigarettes or vape products by passing the Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill into law.
Dr. Sharon Nyatsanza of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) said that government should "take e-cigarettes seriously, act quickly, and regulate them appropriately before a new generation is addicted to nicotine".
Other health organisations including the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) ,the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of SA are focusing on the #protectournext initiative which holds that e-cigarettes are posing a threat to protecting youth and reducing tobacco use.
In South Africa, e-cigarettes are currently unregulated and are being sold as consumer products, resulting in easy availability to youth at retail outlets, kiosks, and shopping malls, says Lorraine Govender of CANSA.
“We’re very concerned that e-cigarette marketing uses many of the same strategies effectively used by the tobacco industry to reach kids, and South Africa is no exception. The tobacco industry’s flavoured products that taste like fruit, mint and candy have long been known to be appealing to kids, and now e-cigarettes are available in these flavours. Tobacco and e-cigarette companies are also using social media marketing to advertise e-cigarettes in ways that appeal to the youth. The bottom line is we need to close the legislative gap, and close it fast,” she said.
E-cigarette have opened up new markets in countries around the world and all of the major multinational tobacco companies are either launching their own e-cigarette and tobacco alternative products or buying established brands.
A research report by Prescient & Strategic Intelligence predicts that the South African e-cigarette market will reach R952 million by 2024, growing from 2018 when it generated R415 million revenue.
“South Africa’s Tobacco Control Bill will regulate e-cigarettes in the same way as tobacco cigarettes. Some of the regulations applicable to both combustible and e-cigarette products include new advertising restrictions at point of sale, the requirement for plain or standardised packaging and the banning of smoking or vaping areas in restaurants and public buildings," said Govender.
When the Bill is passed, South Africa will join more than 90 other countries that regulate e-cigarettes. Some countries have taken the approach of completely banning e-cigarettes, or regulating e-cigarettes as medicinal or therapeutic products available only on prescription.
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