The next time you visit a vape store in South Africa, make sure you have your ID. Retailers that sell electronic cigarette and combustible tobacco products could ask for age verification before selling electronic vapour products as part of a drive to prevent underage sales, writer Sameer Naik for The Saturday Star.
This is just one of the guidelines that vape and electronic cigarette retail stores are now reinforcing.
The vaping industry has come under intense scrutiny recently amid a wave of underage vaping. There has been criticism that the industry has done little to prevent sales to underage customers, and that vape products are being directly marketed to teenagers.
Although electronic vapour products were developed as harm reduction tools to assist adult smokers to reduce or quit smoking, the appeal these products holds for under-18s continues to be a hot topic in the media.
Countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia have restricted the sale of these products to minors, according to The Saturday Star article published on 24 April 2021.
The Vapour Products Association of South Africa (VPASA) has launched the Youth Access Prevention campaign aimed at retailers of vaping products, and to assist in raising awareness of electronic vapour products and other electronic nicotine delivery system products among parents.
“We launched this important campaign as we believe red-flagging this issue is of paramount importance,” said Asanda Gcoyi, CEO of VPASA.
“The fundamental we cannot afford to forget is that most e-liquids contain nicotine, and that vaping was created for smokers seeking a less-harmful alternative to smoking cigarettes.
Prematurely exposing young people to an addictive substance such as nicotine is incorrect,” he said.
“As an association, we want to play our role in ensuring that these products are kept out of the hands of minors. We want to create a responsible industry and most importantly, educate people who may not know that vaping is not for people who have never smoked, but rather for smokers seeking a less-harmful alternative to cigarettes.”
Gcoyi told The Saturday Star that the launch of the campaign was delayed by the pandemic.
“Across the globe, there is growing concern over the easy access to vaping products by young people. As an industry that is not regulated, we thought it would be important to lead the charge and be proactive on the continent about advocating that these products are not for young people.”
This stance had been embedded in VPASA’s code of conduct since its inception, he said.
“It’s always been an area of self-regulation for the industry, but we’ve realised that it’s equally important to share that with the public so they are fully aware of our position as an industry on the issue of young people using these products.”
“It’s equally important for us to elevate the educational component of electronic vapour products. This is also an opportunity to get those retailers who may not be members of VPASA to join a cause that is extremely important.”
The Saturday Star reports that More than 65% of the South African vaping industry already holds VPASA membership.
“While we don’t have much say over those who are not members, we hope this campaign will encourage them to become cognisant about the need to prevent youth access to these products.”
Gcoyi said the association had created two sets of guidelines, to tackle the fact that people access vapour products at physical stores as well as online.
Link to the full Saturday article below.
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