Electronic Nicotine and None-nicotine Delivery Systems (ENNDS), commonly known as e-cigarettes or “vapes” are relatively new in South Africa. There is thus a need for adequate provision of relevant and the latest information to inform consumer choices. The growing proliferation of vaping shops across the country is testament to the growing user base of e-cigs. In the last three years, there has been a marked growth of vapers. According to a EIU Canback study conducted in 2017, the market size of ENNDS in South Africa was over R 133 bn and is growing at 10,3% annually. The industry has seen employment of 10 371 and this number is expected to increase by 10 400 by 2027 while formal tobacco showed a decline in the same period.
The Vapour Product Association of South Africa (VPASA) was formed to represent the interests of manufacturers, retailers and consumers. It was also created to provide accurate information to consumers to make informed choices and also advocate for appropriate industry regulation. The latter is critical to ensure government institutes appropriate regulation underpinned by a proper science and a thorough Socio-Economic Impact Assessment.
There has been a plethora of studies done on ENNDS products that show that these products have a significantly reduced risk profile compared to combustible tobacco products. Public Health England found in one of its studies that e-cigs were 95% less harmful than combustible tobacco, making e-cigs the single most important development in the area of nicotine consumption. The aim of VPASA is thus to ensure that the conversation on ENNDS and its regulation is not driven by fearmongering and misinformation, but credible, verifiable evidence.
VPASA intends to work closely with government and legislators to develop appropriate regulations for the vaping industry in South Africa. The Association is as concerned as government by the growing disease burden on the public health system, occasioned by non-communicable diseases. In this respect, our aim is to ensure that vaping regulations do not unduly restrict trade and consumer behaviour and choices in the area of vaping, to ensure that more smokers are afforded the opportunity to exit tobacco in favour of vaping, which, as has been said above, is 95% less harmful than combustible tobacco.