We can learn from the UK Legislative process of the vaping industry

Never before has the British parliament’s Science and Technology Committee, led by their Chairman Mr Norman Lamb MP, come out so boldly in support of the relaxation of regulations of their vaping industry. Following the tabling of the report on e-cigarettes, the Committee is calling for the UK government to abandon the strict EU’s anti-vaping laws.

Three months ago our Department of Health introduced the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill. In this Bill, the department lumped both the traditional combustible cigarette with e-cigarette. In our submission to the Department, the Vaping Products Association of South Africa has argued strongly against this twinning of these two products. Our standpoint is informed by existing overwhelming scientific research available from Public Health England Cochrane network of health researchers agree that e-cigarettes are 95% safer than your traditional combustible cigarettes. This is a scientific fact which we cannot ignore as we process the current Bill. We also wish to call upon the Department to take this crucial evidence into account.

Arguing before the UK Science and Technology Committee, Lamb pursued a strong case in favour of relaxing restrictions on e-cigarettes arguing amongst others that “e-cigs are a powerful harm reduction tool that should be encouraged” said Mr Lamb. For this reason, they wish to reconsider their legislative regime which the MP says needs to:

• create greater freedom for industry to advertise e-cigarettes
• relax regulations and tax duties on e-cigarettes to reflect their relative health benefits
• an annual review of the health effects of e-cigarettes, as well as heat-not-burn products
• a debate on vaping in public spaces, such as on public transport and in offices
• e-cigarettes licensed as medical devices
• a rethink on limits on refill strengths and tank sizes
• an end to the ban on snus – an oral tobacco product which is illegal in the UK under EU rules

As a country we have an opportunity to learn from the UK and separate the two categories upfront and seek to allow this category to display its benefit through widespread visibility and education on the product, which the Bill seeks to prevent.

(The writer is the Spokesperson of the Vapour Product Association of South Africa).