The research in question, said Ayo-Yusuf, has found that of the over 240 vape shops in South Africa, 39% were within a 10km radius of a university or college campus, while 65.3% were within a 20km radius.

Sadly, ignoring the scientific evidence in favour of the products as harm reduction tools, the professor also said that local research counters claims “made by the e-cigarette industry” indicating the relative safety of the products. “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 the youth are facts which are conveniently omitted from their narrative. This series of studies provides very useful information to guide policymakers in South Africa,” said Ayo-Yusuf.

Conducted by the ATIM and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), the research in question assessed local e-cigarette use, evaluated the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as cessation aids, and analysed the costs of e-cigarette usage while using geospatial mapping to understand the distribution of vape shops across South Africa and how this might impact youth usage.

The study found that 2.71% of adults, equating to 1.09 million people, used e-cigarettes during 2018, and suggested that most of these continued smoking regular cigarettes in conjunction with vaping. Moreover, the researchers reported that over 95% of e-cigarette users continued to smoke and few of them managed to stop smoking for more than six months. This research has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Contrasting reports from the UK

In contrast, data reported by researchers at the renowned King’s College London, tells a different story. The PHE’s seventh independent report on vaping in England, was summarized as follows:

  • “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”

Speaking about the report findings, 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.”

SA’s Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill

Meanwhile, 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”.

Read Further: ICIR

UK: NHS Launches ‘Don’t Wait’ Quit Smoking Campaign 

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In-house journalist covering international vaping news.