The draft Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill will not effectively reduce cigarette sales or smoking-related harm in the country, says tobacco company Philip Morris South Africa.
The bill is expected to further regulate the use, marketing and sales of e-cigarettes or vapes in South Africa, with these products currently operating in a legislative vacuum.
Plans are also in place to introduce further restrictions on the smoking of cigarettes in public places.
Current smoking laws ban smoking in public places but allow for designated smoking areas in bars, taverns and restaurants provided that they do not take up more than 25% of the venue.
Lawmakers want to change this to a 100% prohibition of smoking in public areas.
“On one side of the debate are those who would see less harmful nicotine products including e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products and snus, regulated the same as the most harmful products, namely cigarettes,” said Rishaad Hajee, head of corporate communications at Philip Morris South Africa.
“This approach doesn’t consider the growing body of scientific evidence which shows that not all nicotine-containing products are the same and turns a blind eye to the principle of tobacco harm reduction.”
Philip Morris is building a future on a new category of smoke-free products that, while not risk-free, are a much better choice than continuing to smoke And despite being aware of the evident health risks, many adult smokers continue to smoke cigarettes, said Hajee.
Hajee said that between 2015 and 2019, the total cigarette sales in Japan dropped by 34%, which can be associated with the introduction of heated tobacco products.
“South Africa can achieve similar success if it implements regulatory frameworks that recognise that not all tobacco products are the same,” he said.
“Sensible regulation is key to striking the right balance. This means adopting regulation that recognizes the role of these alternatives in helping those adults who would otherwise continue to smoke to move away from cigarettes while protecting youth and non-smokers.”
The draft bill was first published in 2018 and did not treat alternative nicotine-containing products differently from cigarettes.
This indicates that South Africa’s tobacco regulations are not keeping pace with science and innovation and are not including tobacco harm reduction as part of the strategy for tobacco regulation or policymaking, Hajee said.