Earlier this year the Department of Health published for public comments the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill which seeks to control the use of electronic smoking devices amongst others. As part of its comprehensive submission in response to the Bill, the Vaping Products Association of South Africa (VPASA) put an emphasis on a number of crucial points which include the need for regulation in this industry. The Association also stressed its commitment to work with government in ensuring that there is responsible use of electronic smoking devices and that vaping products are not sold to people under the age of 18 years which is a statutory age for smoking in South Africa.
Just recently, the Head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expressed concern on the increase in the number of young people who take-up vaping in the USA. Mr. Scott Gottlieb is quoted as having said, “we remain committed to advancing policies that promote the potential of e-cigarette to help adult smokers move away from combustible cigarette”.
As a responsible industry association and responsible corporate citizen, we would be very concerned if our member products were sold to people under the age of 18 years. As an industry body, we strongly believe that vaping (the use of electronic smoking devices) is not a fashion statement. Electronic cigarettes can assist with harm reduction and assist adult combustible cigarette smokers switch to a 95% safer product.
Canback Consulting, in the Economic Impact Study completed for the VPASA, highlighted from a UK study, that despite the novelty factor, e-cigarette users who had never smoked before, only 0.1% of the population surveyed become frequent users and this 0.1% were users above 18 years. Healthcare England highlighted that e-cigarette use among the youth remains low and is generally associated with the use of other tobacco products, including combustible cigarettes. It is crucial to take a lesson from the UK, where the health department works closely with the vaping industry to ensure responsible use of e-cigarettes.
The South African industry has its own challenges and collaboration with the Department of Health is imperative to find ways to ensure education of current cigarette smoker on making informed choices to switch to a safer products in the effort to stop smoking.
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