Tobacco industry campaigns against new bill

Tobacco industry campaigns against new bill

Tobacco and electronic cigarette manufacturers have launched an aggressive campaign against government’s proposed legislation to clamp down on their products.

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The Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, released for public comment recently, aims to outlaw smoking in public.

But over the weekend, the Japan Tobacco International (JTI) launched a “Hands Off My Choices” campaign, claiming that the Bill is a threat to people’s freedom of choice.

The JTI’s campaign came a few days after a media roundtable hosted by the industry-funded Africa Harm Reduction Alliance (AHRA), which accused Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi of legislating out of fear of the unknown. It claims the bill is not informed by any scientific proof that e-cigarettes are dangerous.

The AHRA promotes electronic cigarettes and claims that they are “95% safer” than cigarettes. But the alliance’s co-founder, Dr Delon Human, has been unable to share the research on which this claim is based.

However, researchers at the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, in Germany has found that smoking e-cigarettes has a significant negative impact on cardiovascular functions and can be as dangerous as cigarettes.

Newly published

In the newly published study, participants either smoked a cigarette, a nicotine-based e-cigarette or a nicotine-free e-cigarette for five minutes, and their vital signs were monitored while they smoked and for two hours afterwards.

Smokers of e-cigarettes experienced the same, or even higher levels, of cardiovascular elevation, and for longer periods than the cigarette smokers.

The National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) says there is enough evidence, even within the South African context, to show that electronic cigarettes are just as dangerous as tobacco cigarettes.  

NCAS’s Executive Director, Savera Kalideen, warned that the tobacco industry is trying to promote e-cigarettes as a safe choice for smokers.

This is part of a worldwide trend as the tobacco industry moves into producing other products, such as e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn tobacco devices, in reaction to a global clampdown on smoking.

“The issue is not whether the e-cigarettes are less harmful than combustible smoking, it’s whether they are healthy or not. They are not safe because of the toxins they contain. They are also addictive because they contain nicotine. E-cigarettes can lead to heart and lung disease as well as cancer for smokers,” said Kalideen.

The organisation says cardiovascular disease kills more people than any other cause of death worldwide, and tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure contribute to approximately 12% of all heart disease-related deaths.

Curious

Curiously, the Vapour Products Association has managed to enlist the support of Dr Kgosi Letlape, president of the Health Professions Council (HPCSA), to promote e-cigarettes.

Letlape who is AHRA’s co-founder spoke at the organisation’s media roundtable, claiming that doctors had a duty to encourage smokers to move to e-cigarettes.

However Letlape has denied that he is promoting e-cigarettes saying he is an advocate for harm reduction.

“I was speaking at an event organised by the vaping industry and I spoke about vaping as one method of harm reduction. There is a difference between advocating for harm reduction and promoting e-cigarettes products. I am not connected to any vaping society, I do not endorse any vaping products and I do not get compensation or payment from the e-cigarette industry,” he said.

The African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) says there is no need for vaping and e-cigarettes to be marketed on the continent.

Smokers of e-cigarettes experienced the same, or even higher levels, of cardiovascular elevation, and for longer periods than the cigarette smokers.

ATCA Communications Manager Sessou Leonce Dieudonné asked “Why are so-called harm reduction products needed in Africa when smoking rates are already low?”.

Meanwhile, Kalideen welcomed the tobacco bill, which wants to remove smoking sections in restaurants and make it illegal to smoke in public areas.

“The Bill is saying that it is possible for people who don’t smoke to breathe clean air in public spaces,” said Kalideen. “A cigarette contains 700 chemicals, over 75 percent of which cause cancer. What the industry is saying is that smokers should be allowed to smoke in public. But we believe that their actions expose non-smokers in those spaces to dangerous chemicals.”

Spokesperson for the Department of Health, Foster Mohale, says the vaping industry’s rejection of the bill is not supported by facts and evidence.

“The department ’s objective is to protect health, whereas the industry is interested in pushing demand and supply of the tobacco products to gain profit,” said Mohale.

The public has until August 9 to comment on the Bill and can send their comments to [email protected]