The bans on tobacco products and alcohol sales announced in March, sadly included safer alternatives such as e-cigarettes and snus. Naturally, this had angered many public health experts and vaping advocates. Vapour Products Association of South Africa (VPASA) chief executive Asanda Gcoyi, reiterated that treating cigarettes and safer alternatives in the same manner poses a significant problem.

“Smokers are buying cigarettes in large quantities, despite the lockdown, and unusual brands are becoming prevalent.”
Vaping is not smoking, those are two different things. Both vaping and cigarettes contain nicotine, but nicotine is not what kills people in smoking, people die because of the tar,” she said.

On top of this, in line with arguments by international health experts, Gcoyi had added that another concern is vapers going back to smoking or purchasing vape products on the black market. “My other concern is the illicit market. People are buying vape juice from shops we know nothing about, we hear it’s available at spaza shops, stories that people are mixing juices at home, which is extremely dangerous, because they are just mixing things and the environment is not right.”

And this is exactly what has happened. Sadly, a recent study conducted by the University of Cape Town, had proven these predictions to be right. Economic scholars Corné van Walbeek, Samantha Filby and Kirsten van der Zee, surveyed over 16,000 people on how they were being affected by the tobacco ban.

“Our findings suggest that the ban on cigarette sales is failing in what it was supposed to do,” reported the researchers. “While the original intention of the ban was to support public health, the current disadvantages of the ban may well outweigh the advantages. Smokers are buying cigarettes in large quantities, despite the lockdown, and unusual brands are becoming prevalent.”

Regulation 45 prohibits the sales of e-cigarettes

Despite these findings, last week on Sunday July 12th, over a dozen new pieces of legislation were thrust upon SA, as part of the new Disaster Management Act regulations. These include Regulation 45, which dictates that the ban on tobacco and vaping products remains in place.

“The sale of tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes and related products to members of the public and to persons, including retailers who sell directly to the members of the public, is prohibited. The sale of tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes and related products for export is permitted. The sale of tobacco from farmers to local processors or local manufacturers, and from processors to manufacturers, is permitted,” states the regulation.

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