South Africa’s Controversial Tobacco Bill

The “Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill” aims to “reduce the incidence of tobacco-related illness, disability and death”, however given the harsh restrictions it imposes on safer nicotine alternatives, it will do the exact opposite of what it aims to do.

South Arica’s controversial “Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill“, has ignited significant public backlash due to its proposed prohibitions, price hikes, and harsh penalties. The bill aims to ban the display of tobacco and vape products in retail settings, including in specialty tobacco stores. It brings about substantial price increases for cigarettes, as well as for safer nicotine alternatives and sets a new sin tax on all nicotine products.

Tobacco harm reduction (THR) experts have incessantly argued that the bill unfairly lumps electronic delivery systems, including vapes, with traditional tobacco, hindering harm reduction efforts. Vape advocates, such as Tshepo Ranko and Dr. Kgosi Letlape, express concerns over this approach, emphasizing the ethical responsibility to provide information on harm reduction products to smokers seeking safer alternatives. As the president of the African Harm Reduction Alliance, Letlape worries that the bill marginalizes nicotine users, including those who have chosen vaping as a safer alternative to cigarettes.

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Vaping can save 200 million lives and flavours play a key role in helping smokers quit. However, policymakers want to limit or ban flavours, putting our effort to end smoking-related deaths in jeopardy.

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