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.
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.”
The tobacco ban is driving South Africans to the black market
And this is exactly what has happened. A recent study conducted by the University of Cape Town, has proven these predictions to be right.
Subsequently, local tobacco companies have responded by suing the government on grounds that the ban infringes citizens’ rights and that prohibition will ultimately just lead to a reduction in vital tax revenues and a rise in the illicit trade of tobacco products. On the other hand, no one is falling for Big Tobacco’s tactics and naturally they are being called hypocritical.
The lockdown could have been used to promote safer alternatives
Meanwhile, PMSA has issued a statement pertaining to the ban, saying that it is a missed opportunity to encourage smokers to switch to safer alternatives. “The blanket ban on all tobacco and e-cigarette products undermines the efforts of those adult smokers who switched to better alternatives, such as heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes,” said Phillip Morris SA MD Marcelo Nico.
“It also misses a huge opportunity to encourage all adult South Africans who would otherwise continue smoking to switch to smoke-free alternatives. While scientifically substantiated smoke-free products are not risk-free and they contain nicotine, which is addictive, they are a much better choice than continued smoking,” said Nico.
Read Further: The Citizen