The new Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, was first announced last May by Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla, and is now thought to be going through a review process.

The Bill is expected to propose stricter e-cigarettes and vaping regulations, and restrictions on the use, marketing, and sales of certain tobacco products in South Africa. Moreover, it would set in place a provision allowing the government to implement a “100% public cigarette ban”.

VPASA welcomes e-cig regulations

Arguably tobacco companies started the illicit cigarette trade themselves, in order to prevent governments from being able to implement certain regulatory changes that would be detrimental to the legalindustry.
The Vapour Products Association of South Africa’s (VPASA) has emphasized that contrary to what is generally assumed, the industry welcomes the introduction of e-cig regulations. “VPASA’s second successful diginar in its Vaping Conversations series ended in consensus – that governments, including South Africa’s, should regulate vaping – and that these laws should be grounded in a risk-based approach which ensures users are both educated and informed. All decisions must be based on the latest available scientific data.”

Naturally, the part of the bill pushing for a public cigarette ban, is expected to cause controversy and resistance by the tobacco industry, as it would subject cigarettes to similar local restrictions on dagga, of which consumption is only allowed in private spaces.

Big tobacco vs South African government

Last July, Japan Tobacco International (JPI) and British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA), together with The South Africa Tobacco Transformation Alliance (SATTA) sued the South African government on grounds that the lockdown-related tobacco ban that it set in place, was infringing citizens’ rights. Moreover, they claimed that the ban was ultimately just leading to a rise in the illicit trade of tobacco products.

Meanwhile, it is widely known that the world’s major tobacco companies have not only been involved in highly organised smuggling operations for many years, but arguably they actually started the illicit trade themselves, in order to prevent governments from being able to implement regulatory changes that would be to their detriment. Case in point, they used the “the rise in illicit trade” card to justify the Covid ban-related lawsuit, and are now similarly expected to retaliate against the proposed smoking restrictions.

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