South Africa Implements Stricter Regulations on E-Cigarettes

South Africa Implements Stricter Regulations on E-Cigarettes
South Africa's new tobacco plan includes stricter regulations for electronic cigarettes, aiming to discourage smoking, especially among children.

As part of the latest tobacco plan passed by the parliament, electronic cigarette devices in South Africa are facing stricter regulation.

South Africa is adopting a tougher stance on tobacco and nicotine, with the health department aiming to stop people, especially children, from smoking and to encourage users to quit. To achieve this goal, the department has presented the Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill, which has recently received approval from the cabinet and will be submitted to parliament. Once it becomes law, it will replace regulations that were established almost 30 years ago.

The legislation in question defines traditional tobacco products as being comprised of tobacco, such as cigarettes. It also defines electronic nicotine delivery systems as devices designed to produce aerosol or vapor for inhalation by users, such as electronic cigarettes. Most regulations that impact traditional tobacco products now extend to electronic cigarettes as well.

The health department will not differentiate between smokers and those who use electronic cigarettes within the scope of the new legislation. Both will be prohibited from smoking in any enclosed public space, as well as some open public areas. Private use of electronic cigarettes in front of children or non-smokers will also be prohibited, as the law applies to traditional tobacco products as well.

Furthermore, the bill contains provisions specifically targeting electronic nicotine delivery systems. The Minister of Health will ultimately be responsible for defining more detailed specifications in multiple regulations, including the content, ingredients, and additives, as well as coloring agents, unique flavors, and emissions of related products.

The bill emphasizes that the minister has the authority to prohibit "any substance or ingredient that produces specific colors, characteristics, flavors, odors, or effects on consumers." This leaves the regulation of the e-liquid used in electronic cigarettes entirely up to the minister.

The industry is hoping for regulation. We must be regulated," said Asanda Gcoyi, CEO of the Vapor Product Association of South Africa (VPASA), in response to news of the progress of the bill in parliament, speaking to Business Insider SA. "But we recommend that the government use e-cigarettes as a product to reduce the harm caused by tobacco.

Although the Cabinet stated that the bill was first released in 2018 and had undergone "extensive consultations with various stakeholders, including the tobacco industry", representatives of manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers were not included in recent discussions, indicating that initial feedback had been ignored.

South Africa is not the only country considering a ban on flavored e-cigarette liquids. Earlier this year, EU lawmakers proposed a ban on the sale of flavored heated tobacco products, while the US Food and Drug Administration has already banned "unauthorized, kid-friendly, flavor-based e-cigarettes, including fruit and mint.

Although the ban on flavors is meant to reduce young people's use of e-cigarettes and vaping, recent research, such as a study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, suggests that restricting flavored tobacco sales has been effective but has not had the expected impact.

South Africa's Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Act also prohibits online retailers. While traditional tobacco products have already been banned from online sales and delivery, e-commerce retailers play an important role in the electronic cigarette industry. "If you look at most of the electronic cigarette industry, including companies ... any entity retailers of any industry] are no longer attractive, especially coming out of Covid. So, if you take away [online electronic cigarette] shops], you've already killed a third of the industry," said Gcoyi.


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