Tobacco and e-cigarette regulation bill in South Africa: risk of unintended, adverse public health consequences
Friday, 10 August 2018 15:23
By Dr Farsalinos
Few months ago, the South Africa Ministry of Health proposed a new tobacco and e-cigarette regulation bill and initiated a public commentary period that expired on August 9. Two days ago, I submitted a comment to the South Africa officials, expressing my concern about the many of the proposals included in the bill. In brief, the bill makes no differentiation between e-cigarettes and combustible tobacco cigarettes. In fact, they define use of e-cigarettes (i.e. vaping) as smoking. As a result they apply the same restrictions in marketing, advertisement and enclosed public place ban as smoking. There is also an attempt to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products due to nicotine being extracted from tobacco. This decision is unreasonable and that has no scientific basis. As I mentioned in 2014, “ it makes no more sense to argue that nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are tobacco products than to argue that biodiesel is a vegetable product because it is derived from plants ”. Additionally, the bill raises the possibility of introducing health warning messages in the packaging of e-cigarettes and may even implement plain packaging. All these proposals will result in misinformation and misconceptions among smokers about e-cigarettes, and will discourage and prevent them from switching to a substantially less harmful alternative. In my comment, I provide a short overview on the current knowledge about e-cigarettes and I present the potential unintended public health consequences of some of the proposals.
For those interested in reading the whole letter, it is available here .