Cape Town - The vapour products industry is
seething after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that during the
level 3 nationwide lockdown the
sale of these products and tobacco
will remain prohibited, a move
some say could further fuel the
Manufacturers and retailers said they had once again been left out in the cold. Asanda Gcoyi, chief executive of the Vapour Products Association of South Africa (Vpasa), said: “The association is extremely disappointed at the government’s ongoing decision to equate electronic vapour products (EVPs) with cigarettes in terms of the extension of the tobacco ban in level 3.
“Aside from not consulting the nicotine industry during the drafting of the new regulations, the government is also missing another critical opportunity to offer South Africans a cigarette substitute that is a proven harm-reduction alternative.
“As the flourishing illicit tobacco trade during levels 5 and 4 has shown, most smokers are unable or unwilling to kick the habit. We once again appeal to the government to rethink the inclusion of EVPs in the tobacco ban. If implemented correctly - as with other online trade - these sales will resolve the issue of people congregating unnecessarily and stave off the creation and trade of home-made and black-market products,” Gcoyi said.
Ramaphosa said on Sunday evening that after consultations with various bodies, the Cabinet had made a unanimous decision to move the whole country to level3 on June 1.
He said the decision not to lift the ban on tobacco was linked with “the health risks associated with smoking”.
National president of the SA Informal Traders Alliance, Rosheda Muller, said: “No other countries have banned tobacco under lockdown, and everywhere I hear our scientists saying there is no evidence for the ban and that the ban doesn’t make sense.
“There is, however, evidence that the ban has led to a huge increase in the illicit cigarette trade, which is being run by criminals and gangs who make our communities more dangerous. There is also clear evidence that our members are losing business and income from the ban. Our members are losing their faith and trust in the government.”
The banning of tobacco products has led to the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita), whose members include cigarette makers Carnilinx and Gold Leaf Tobacco, to launch a court bid to have cigarettes and tobacco products declared essential goods. The government has until today to submit the reasons behind the decision.
Fita chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni said: “We are disappointed by the decision because the president did say that further sectors will be opened during level 3. We don't understand why any form of engagement was not tabled with us. Weren't afforded the opportunity to provide any submissions."