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Consumer Groups Respond To South Africa

Nineteen international tobacco harm reduction consumer groups have called on the South African government to “stop killing harm reduction” in its new Tobacco Control Bill

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Nineteen international tobacco harm reduction consumer groups have called on the South African government to “stop killing harm reduction” in its new Tobacco Control Bill. Representatives from the groups are asking the Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health to embrace vaping and other alternative nicotine products as tools to combat smoking.

The proposed text of the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill intends to regulate alternative nicotine products and combustible products in the same manner with provisions covering extra restrictions on sale and manufacturing of tobacco and nicotine products. It also includes a ban on advertising for tobacco heating and vaping products, a ban on public use of tobacco heating and vaping products, and a power of the Minister to impose flavour bans for tobacco heating and vaping products.

Smoking is a global problem and needs to be addressed urgently and accordingly. Only in South Africa, 42,181 people die every year due to tobacco smoking. Yet, the provisions offered by the South African government include several provisions which will halt the progress that South Africa has made in combating the smoking epidemic and will thus endanger lives of all those who have successfully quit smoking due to wide availability of alternative nicotine products,” the organisations stated in the submission.

The organisations argue for a risk-based regulation, claiming that “for the purposes of the legislation, smoking and vaping should be clearly distinguished and regulated in separate provisions where vaping is acknowledged as a smoking-reduction tool.”

Michael Landl, the director of the World Vapers’ Alliance, one of the signatories to the submission, stated: “Nicotine products should be regulated according to their risk profile. We have seen many examples where all-out bans on alternative products have only produced the opposite results, bringing about detrimental effects to public health. It is time our officials acknowledged that vaping is a tool to combat the smoking epidemic and should not be treated the same way.”

Kurt Yeo, co-founder of the South African organisation ‘Vaping Saved My Life’, added: “This Bill gives the Minister of Health the authority to regulate on any topic that he thinks necessary to protect the public. The Minister of Health will have the authority to select who can sell vape products, as well as where and when they can be sold. Considering the unlawful ban on tobacco and vape sales during the Covid-lockdown in 2020, such significant power granted to a single Minister seems excessive.”

South-Africa’s consultation is open for public submissions until 4 August 2023. Vaping Saved My Life has produced a roadmap to the consultation’s submission.

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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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