The Vaping Products Association of South Africa (VPASA) is shocked by the continued side-ling of the vaping industry at the World Health Organisation gathering to discuss the regulation of smoking and vaping on public health. The gathering, attended by more than 130 members of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) was attended by nations represented by Ministers and senior health officials from countries which are signatories to the Convention. The six-day gathering sadly saw the door being shut on the face of the industry which is an important player on discussions regarding the control of tobacco-use across the globe.
Expressing her association’s shock and dismay, the VPASA’s Chief Executive Ms Zodwa Velleman said it was unfortunate that in this day and age, there are some who still deem it fit to sideline key stakeholders in important policy discussions. “It really doesn’t make sense to exclude a critical player such as the industry in these important global discussions. The Vaping industry in particular is very conscious of the need to address the impact of smoking on public health. In our engagement with our local health authorities, we have made it crystal clear that we are all for regulation to reduce harm caused by smoking. Just as important, we have expressed a desire for us to be heard as we deal with this global public health issue”.
In its submission to the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, the VPASA presented a strong argument for electronic smoking to be de-linked from traditional smoking products citing credible scientific evidence by reputable institutions such as Public Health England and the Cochrane Network of Health Researchers. This research places the safety of these new smoking products as high as 95% thus making a case them not to be lumped together with their traditional counterparts.
“The science is there and it is there for a reason. It is there to guide policy-makers and all stakeholders in the complex task of shaping policy and regulatory regime on smoking. The fact that this important gathering in Geneva excluded the industry players has served to serve one purpose which is to reduce this gathering into some kind of an echo-chamber where only the like-minded are allowed to participate. This is not good for the smokers and regulation especially in view of the innovation happening in the industry geared at reducing harm to human health and the environment”, said Velleman.
Despite this exclusion, Velleman expressed her optimism for the Department of Health to engage with the VPASA in processing this important Bill. “We are encouraged by the fact that for the first time, the Conference of Parties has put the spotlight on environmental issues and this is the narrative that should not be lost here at home” concluded Velleman.
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