The department of health has officially released its draft tobacco bill for public comment, the bill also seeks to regulate electronic devices with the possible banking of vaping indoors.

Many South Africans have moved to vaping as an alternative to traditional tobacco, as it is 95% safer.

Dr Kgosi Letlape co-founder of the African Harm Reduction Alliance (ARHA), says there are many alternatives to combustion, which includes vaping and, we should not treat all nicotine sources the same because they are not the same. We welcome the new bill and hope they will make the distinction. In many countries like the UK, vaping is considered to be useful and are even advocated to be provided by the national health system.

We must be mindful that we provide safer alternatives to people who can not quit smoking, reducing the burden on the health system.

We have no issues with the restrictions being placed on combustible cigarettes including plain packaging but Dr Kgosi Letlape says we need to look at the evidence that these products are not the same, and they need to be treated differently.

Smokers that can’t quit, should be encouraged to move to less harmful products, just like in medical terms we have nicotine replacement therapy for people that can’t quit cigarettes but are dependent on nicotine and many of those alternatives include vaping.