Contrary to claims made by e-cigarette manufacturers, using e-cigarettes is more expensive than smoking cigarettes when comparing daily users of both products over a one-year period, says a survey released on Monday.
The annual cost associated with daily use was R6,693 for manufactured cigarettes and up to R19,780 for e-cigarettes.
This is according to research on e-cigarettes conducted by public health researchers, who argue there is a need to speedily pass the Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill into law.
Of the at least 240 vape shops in SA, 39% are within a 10km radius of a university or college campus, and 65.3% are within a 20km radius of a university or college campus, their research showed.
“We found that living near a vape shop was associated with using an e-cigarette in the past or currently,” said Dr Israel Agaku of the University of Pretoria. “These important findings justify the regulation of lifestyle advertising targeted at the youth and the limitation of access to these products by children.”
E-cigarette use was associated with higher likelihood of short-term, but not long-term quitting.
Overall, 2.71% of adults, translating to 1.09 million people, used e-cigarettes daily or occasionally during 2018, they said. A majority of e-cigarette users (97.5%) were concurrently regularly smoking cigarettes.
The researchers say implementing excise taxes on e-cigarettes at 75% of the cigarette excise tax rate could generate annual revenue of up to R2.2bn.
The studies were conducted by the Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research (ATIM) at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU), the University of Pretoria and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC).
Prof Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, director of the ATIM, said: “Globally, research on these relatively new products is guiding better regulation, and we trust that SA will implement the Tobacco Control Bill as a comprehensive, evidence-based policy.
We all have a responsibility to remain aware and vigilant in protecting the health of our people.
“We all have a responsibility to remain aware and vigilant in protecting the health of our people.”
Ayo-Yusuf said advocacy groups and researchers could maintain vigilance in relation to the tobacco industry, to identify and publicise any evasive or deceptive marketing.
Clinicians could educate themselves and their patients about the latest evidence regarding e-cigarettes, and recommend evidence-based products as smoking cessation aids for both cigarette and e-cigarette users, he said.
Pharmacies could voluntarily remove e-cigarettes from their shelves as a health promotion initiative.
Parents and caregivers could adopt voluntary smoke-free home and car rules that prohibit all forms of tobacco and e-cigarette use, he added.