South Africa’s Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, was first announced last May by Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla, and is currently being reviewed. The Bill proposes stricter e-cig 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”.

In reality, the vast majority of studies indicating the effectivity of e-cigs for smoking cessation, were conducted by public health bodies independent from the vape or even worse, the tobacco industry.
The detrimental aspect of the bill is that it fails to acknowledge the relative benefits of tobacco harm reduction products such as e-cigarettes, and would regulate them in the same way as regular cigarettes. Supporting this move, director of the Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, said that local research counters claims “made by the e-cigarette industry” indicating the relative safety of the products.

He presented a number of studies jointly conducted by the Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research, the University of Pretoria, and the SA Medical Research Council (MRC), which allegedly indicate that over 95% of e-cigarette users continued to smoke and only few of them managed to stop smoking for more than six months. This research has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“While the tobacco and e-cigarette industry likes to position e-cigarettes as cessation aids, the limited effectiveness of these products for long-term quitting, the health harms associated with usage and the industry’s clear and targeted marketing to youth are facts which are conveniently omitted from their narrative,” said Ayo-Yusuf.

Countless independent studies indicate otherwise

Meanwhile, countless studies from across the globe indicate the opposite. Moreover, contrary to the allegations made by Ayo-Yusuf, the majority of these studies which counter his findings, are conducted by public health bodies independent from the vape or even worse, the tobacco industry.

In fact the PHE’s (Public Health England) seventh independent report on vaping in England, highlighted the following:

  • “Vaping is the most popular aid (27.2%) used by smokers trying to quit in England in 2020
  • More than 50,000 smokers stopped smoking in 2017 with the aid of vaping
  • 38% of smokers believed that vaping is as harmful as smoking while 15% believed that vaping is more harmful”

The PHE’s seventh report on vaping

Commenting on the PHE report, director of the World Vapers’s Alliance (WVA), Michael Landl, said that those who continue to vilify vaping are simply refuting scientific data.

“Today’s report from Public Health England is great news for vapers. We have further confirmation vaping is a way out of smoking. Those who continue to claim that vaping is a gateway to smoking should take the time to read the science. ‘Listen to the science’ is something we’ve heard a lot lately with COVID but hopefully those that continually criticise vaping will this time. They cannot continue to pick and choose the science that suits them.”

Read Further: Business Day

South Africa to Introduce Further E-Cig Restrictions

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