The national government’s proposed Tobacco Draft Bill threatens to eliminate vaping in South Africa as it tightens the laws on usage, and categorises the alternative with traditional cigarette smoking.

The proposed Tobacco Draft Bill intends to place stricter laws on the recreational activity such as more graphic packaging, banning smoking in public spaces and the removal of all signage on cigarette packaging.

The bill has currently placed vaping in the same category as smoking tobacco cigarettes, said the CEO of the Vapor Product Association of South Africa (VPA), Zodwa Velleman.

The VPA is urging national government to adjust the bill to treat vapes and tobacco cigarettes as two separate concepts, instead of lumping them into one category.

“The industry is not saying we don’t want regulation, we need regulations as an industry even though we have our own self regulation that ensures we only deal with customers that are 18-years-old and above,” said Velleman.

A document to make further adjustments to the proposed tobacco laws has been sent government by the VPA.

Health and safety concerns

A study conducted by the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the New York University by Moon-Shong Tang found that e-cigarettes (or vapes) contain elements that cause damage to DNA, and even though they contain less carcinogenic properties, may cause users to develop lung and bladder cancer.

Contrary to this, Velleman told Cape Talk that vaping has proven to be a safer alternative to smoking and has aided previous smokers to quit.

She added that 0.01% of vapers have never tried smoking tobacco cigarettes and majority of users are previous smokers.

“It is a product that is proven to assist people to quit smoking and is actually safer and less harmful,” she said.

VPA claims vaping is 95% safer than smoking cigarettes, and this conclusion is based on the results of a study conducted by Satriya Wibawa Suhardjo – a researcher at Padjadjaran University in July 2018.

“If you look at the UK as an example, when vaping came out over 10 years ago it was rejected, with research done over a period of time it shows that less people are smoking and dying as a cause of cigarettes,” Velleman added.

To control the level of nicotine usage, vaping allows users to choose the amount of nicotine which they want to consume while vaping. Thus ranges from 0.01mg to 18mg.

Nicotine is widely known as an addictive substance, and VPA intends to expel the myths surrounding this with vaping.

“Studies are being conducted at a global level, but from research that has been done, nicotine is not the substance that causes addiction” Velleman said.

More research is needed in order to further understand the components and risks or benefits associated with vaping.

Industry

A study conducted by VPA in 2017 found that vaping accounts for R1.1-billion in sales in South Africa. The vaping industry may not have as many challenges as the cigarette industry as it is tax free and fake e-cigarettes are not on the market. Vaping has not been taxed due to its current cost and targets the middle class in terms of affordability.

Velleman advocated for the use of vaping over cigarettes sharing that they are aiming too reduce the cost.

Picture: Unsplash

Article written by

Ishani Chetty

Ishani is a vegetarian who is passionate about social issues, the environment and current affairs.