How harmful are e-cigarettes: here's what you need to know

​Using e-cigarettes is substantially less harmful to individual health than inhaling smoke from combustible tobacco such as cigarettes and cigars. But while e-cigarettes contain far fewer toxins than combustible cigarettes, they are not free of toxins and still deliver harmful chemicals. The basic technology behind e-cigarettes is consistent but there is an enormous variability within the product category and there is no typical e-cigarette. The products have different ingredients and different hardware, and deliver highly variable amounts of nicotine and potentially toxic chemicals. This variation makes it difficult to make overall public health recommendations about e-cigarettes and is a d

Some basic facts about e-cigarettes

Electronic nicotine delivery systems go by many names. The most common name is “e-cigarettes,” but others such as e-cigs, vapes, vape pens, mods and tanks are also common terms. What is an e-cigarette? E-cigarettes are devices that operate by heating a liquid solution to a high enough temperature so that it produces an aerosol that is inhaled. Solutions, sometimes called e-liquids, typically include nicotine, flavouring and a humectant, such as propylene glycol to retain moisture and create an aerosol when heated. Many of the flavourings and humectants used in e-liquids have been approved by the US's Food and Drug Administration for oral consumption but not for inhalation, due to the lack of

Who can we trust and what can be done about illicit trade in tobacco products?

The murky world of illicit trade is not terra incognita for the world's biggest tobacco companies. Taking what they say on the issue at face value is a naive strategy. Illicit trade in tobacco has been a hot topic in the news of late. The recent SA Revenue Service (Sars) inquiry has highlighted the need for increased focus by Sars and the rebuilding of its investigative capacity while the Tobacco Institute of South Africa (Tisa) preaches gloom and doom for the tobacco industry, claiming that the “legitimate” industry is at the brink of closing its factories, putting over 100,000 workers out of their jobs. Tisa is predominately driving the discussion on the illicit tobacco trade and has publi

How South Africa is tightening its tobacco rules

South Africa’s Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has published a new tobacco control bill which, if passed into law, will tighten the grip on how cigarettes and other tobacco products are sold, marketed and regulated in the country. In this Q&A Catherine Egbe explains what it means for tobacco control. What’s significant about South Africa’s pending tobacco control legislation? CE: There are five key areas of tobacco control that the new bill seeks to address: a smoke-free policy, plain or standardised cigarette packaging, regulating e-cigarettes, points of sale marketing, and removing cigarette vending machines. Some are addressed in South Africa’s current tobacco control law. But the countr