A call for the recognition of vaping as a harm reducing alternative to smoking

A call for the recognition of vaping as a harm reducing alternative to smoking
A call for the recognition of vaping as a harm reducing alternative to smoking. Image source: Pixabay

Pretoria, 17 May 2022 – South Africa is one of the countries facing serious social challenges including chronic addictions and mental wellness. The country is not unique in this respect. The widespread availability of harmful substances, including tobacco, continue to drive up the costs of healthcare through a growing incidence of non-communicable diseases such as cancer. Further, inadequate provision of quit support measures for tobacco users makes the task of lowering the country’s smoking incidence that much more difficult, with smokers left to fend for themselves.

As part of its contribution to tackling some of these challenges, the Vapour Products Association South Africa (VPASA)  is taking part in a series of harm reduction initiatives during May to address these social challenges. “Providing less harmful alternatives is a human rights issue. We believe it is a sensible approach to providing consumers access to potentially less harmful alternatives to tobacco which will, in turn, reduce the rate of smoking, which causes cancer,” says Asanda Gcoyi, CEO of VPASA.

From the available evidence, it is evident that vaping is more successful at helping smokers quit than other quit aids such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). Similarly, although not risk-free, vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking, which allows smokers access to the nicotine they crave with less harm to their health. Thus, potentially less harmful alternatives to smoking have become critical in the fight against smoking related harms, requiring a policy approach which embeds harm reduction at its very core.

This year’s harm reduction awareness month aims to inform and educate smokers about reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals released during smoking. “The industry calls for policy recognition of vaping as a harm reduced alternative to smoking. Only on this basis can smokers be given a realistic shot at reducing their harmful exposure to tobacco chemicals. VPASA is proud to participate in this campaign and calls on the South African vaping and smoking community to fully support this and bring to the attention of policy makers the importance of a scientifically underpinned policy framework to regulate vaping.”

Harm Reduction Awareness Month kicked off on the 1st of May in preparation for the International Harm Reduction on 7 May which aims to promote evidence-based public health policy, practices, and human rights. All these education and awareness efforts will culminate in World Vape Day and World No Tobacco Day on 30 and 31 May respectively.

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Kgalalelo Tlhoaele

C: 068 584 2050

E: [email protected]

on behalf of the Vapour Products Association of South Africa (VPASA)