Cape Town - Vaping companies are calling for separate legislation to the Control of the Tobacco Products and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems Bill.
As the industry await its first new laws since 2018, vaping companies said that they don't encourage non-smokers to vape and that the product should be used as a reduced alternative to smoking.
There are an estimated 350 000 vapers in South Africa, said Vapour Products Association of South Africa (VPASA) chief executive, Asanda Gcoyi.
“The current provisions of the tobacco control bill expects a vaping product to list that it can cause cancer which we see in tobacco products. We cannot label information that is scientifically not true,” said Gcoyi.
The industry agreed to be regulated, but not the same as tobacco products, she said.
“Let’s have separate regulations. Not a lot is known about vaping, so the labelling aspect provides a chance to educate. You need to say that nicotine is addictive, but not harmful,” she explained.
They said that there is a need to make sure that all the ingredients used to be put on the label as well as the age restriction of 18 and over who can make use of the product.
“The main objective is to reduce the number of smokers in the country. We found over the years of research found that e-cigarettes, are the number one option that helps smokers move away from smoking into less harmful substances,” she said.
In vaping you need to advertise, because you need to educate on tobacco reduction, added Gcoyi.
“We understand that the clouds people blow out are also not acceptable. It is about manners. We want designated areas. If you are not a smoker, vaping is not for you,” she stressed.
Dr Delon Human, co-chair of the Africa Harm Reduction Alliance (AHRA), added that he was disappointed that combustible tobacco was equated with non-combustible e-cigarettes.
“It is the consumers’ rights to have labelling so that they can make an informed choice. If labelling is untruthful and not science-based, or does not depict what is inside the package then it doesn't help,” he said.
If the labelling forces manufacturers to equate combustible tobacco with vaping products, this will scare off consumers. “It will lead to more tobacco-related disease and premature death. We are in favour of a separate bill, because it is a separate product,” said Human.
Meanwhile, The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa’s chief executive Professor Pamela Naidoo, said: “I think that there is more evidence, to show that vaping does affect one's health, especially with respiratory disorders like Covid-19.”
The damage has been done, because they made it attractive to young people, she said.
“Vaping increases your risk of dying of heart disease and strokes. The argument that we are putting forward is, do we allow our people to be guinea pigs and the answer is no,” said Naidoo.
Dr Sharon Nyatsanza, communications manager, at the National Council Against Smoking said that the bill will play a key role in reducing tobacco use in the country.
“There are health hazards that come with it. Some of them actually require nicotine content on how much nicotine a product should have. There are no regulations for vaping,” she said.
“It will protect the youth and allow adults to make a choice and to see if the bill will be passed hopefully in the third quarter of this year,” added Nyatsanza.
A local drug centre, Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre’s social worker, Janet Smit, said that the new bill will help deter youth from vaping products.
“Among the more affluent youth it has also become a status symbol. To fit into a certain peer group, youth need to have a certain type of vape,” she said.
Clearer laws regarding vaping could possibly create more awareness regarding the possible negative side-effects of vaping, she added.
“Laws about vaping might bring more awareness regarding the possible dangers of vaping. However, during the adolescent phase of development, young people tend to feel invincible,” said Smit.