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7 lung deaths related to e-cigarettes in the United States - could South Africa be next?

South Africa might face a similar health problem as the US as e-cigarettes are sold here without regulation. This lack of regulation has resulted in a proliferation of outlets selling these products without providing basic information such as the ingredients and the impact of e-cigarettes. With over 300 000 e-cigarettes users in South Africa, how can we stop it from happening here?

The burning question is how were e-cigarettes allowed into the market without them being tested or regulated first? Could this lack of regulation mean that South Africa pays little attention to the health and protection of consumers?

98 countries have already regulated e-cigarettes; including their advertising, packaging, ingredients, nicotine volume and flavours. Why have we not done that?

Yesterday, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that India is banning all sale, production and imports of e-cigarettes. This follows the 7 deaths in the United States from lung illnesses related to e-cigarette use.

Earlier this week, New York State banned flavoured e-cigarettes. Customers can now only buy two flavours - tobacco and menthol. The State of Michigan has also banned flavoured e-cigarettes. This was necessary because there is no regulation of the ingredients or combination of ingredients that can be used in e-cigarette liquids in the US – or in south Africa.

There is plenty of evidence already to show that e-cigarettes are in any case harmful to the respiratory system, cardiovascular system and other parts of the body. With these lung-related deaths, we are seeing new levels of harm.

The Draft Tobacco Bill released for public comment last year included the regulation of e-cigarettes but that Bill has not yet been passed. We urge the government to speedily pass the Bill so that the manufacture, advertising and sale of e-cigarettes can be regulated before we start to see the same kinds of lung diseases here.

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