Representatives from the tobacco and vaping industry have held consultations with the government on the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems Bill, which aims to comprehensively prohibit smoking in public places, reports Business Tech. So far, the government's response to comment on the Bill had been no more than a ‘box-ticking exercise and … sham’, an industry representative has claimed.
The Bill aims to further regulate the use, marketing and sales of e-cigarettes or vapes, with these products currently operating in something of a legislative vacuum. The SA Tobacco Transformation Alliance (SATTA) said it would formally object to the draft legislation which it called a ‘sham’.
SATTA chairman Ntando Shadrack Sibisi said that more than 21,000 comments had been received when the Bill was first published for public comment – and yet the latest version of the Bill remained unchanged. ‘Is the department honestly saying that none of the 21,000 comments made in 2018 were of significance or meaning?’he said.
‘Or did the department not deem those comments to have merit? If so, why bother with this consultation process? It feels like a mere box-ticking exercise, and we believe that makes this process a sham.’ Sibisi also argued that it was ‘dangerous and reckless’ to consider imposing the sort of restrictions proposed in the Bill at a time when the entire legal tobacco industry is in the intensive care unit, with massive losses in income, revenue and jobs.
The vaping industry also lodged its concerns. The Business Tech report says chief executive of the Vaping Products Association of SA, Asanda Gcoyi, raised concerns with the regulations around vaping or ‘heated tobacco’ products. She said the Bill as it stands is liable to continue the mischaracterisation of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) as being equivalent to combustible tobacco.
She contended that vaping is not smoking as it is combustion-free and tobacco-free and cited studies that show that vaping is significantly less harmful for individuals. ‘Our point of departure as the industry is that ENDS and smoking are not the same. To continue as if they are would be a terrible betrayal to former smokers who have switched and those who could potentially switch if the government were to embrace this technological intake in nicotine ingestion. There is no shortage of science to back this point up,’ she said.
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