Regulatory confusion regarding e-cigarettes to be resolved

Confusion continues to surround the legislation of e-cigarettes and vaping in South Africa. As we see more and more research published regarding the successful usage of vaping to help smokers quit the habit, we also see legislation changing around the world.

Vaping and e-cigarettes are treated the same as tobacco products in many countries although they differ in many ways, for instance users have the choice of nicotine-free e-liquid, there’s no tobacco usage with vaping, smoking requires the burning of tobacco and vaping the heating of e-liquid to create vapour, thus the processes are completely different; and the abundance of research that proves that vaping is far healthier than smoking.

In South Africa, vaping falls into gap between smoking and medicinal legislation, and many are calling for it to be classified under both legislations. The idea of these users is that vaping as a whole be regarded as “medicinal” due to its harm reduction qualities and “other” consumption to fall under the Tobacco Act as “it should be regarded as a health risk like all other tobacco products.”

The Vapour Product Association (VPA) has a contradictory view, however. International authorities and study show that vaping is reducing smoking by active smokers. Whilst still delivering the nicotine hit, vaping weans smokers off harmful cigarettes. Nicotine is the least dangerous substance found in cigarettes.

The VPA has its own code of conduct to which it and its members adhere to. Amongst others, members are committed to not selling vaping products to under 18-year-olds.

Vaping is also struggling to find its place in other parts of the world too. In the UK, e-cigarettes can be brought to market as either a medicinal or consumer product, with different processes attached to it. In Norway, vaping is either classified as medicinal or tobacco surrogates and in France e-cigarettes are either consumer or medicinal products.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the States regards e-cigarettes and all other electronic delivery systems as tobacco products, unless where marketed as drugs, devices or combination products. But it seems that the FDA is starting to move towards changing this legislation to encourage smokers to switch to vaping.

Nicotine alone is not responsible for cancer and other smoking related diseases that kills millions annually, but it’s rather the other chemical compounds in tobacco and the carcinogens when lighting the tobacco.

It may take time, but it is inevitable that as the body of available research increases, so legislators will begin to review their stance on vaping. Organisations like the VPA are committed to supplying information available, while ethically serving the market.