Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Tim Cohen’s column, Common sense and judgment up in smoke (November 23), errs on several fronts. Cohen raises concerns about the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill. His issue is that “the legislation places the same restrictions on vaping that it does on smoking”.

He points to the fact that the legislation acknowledges that there is no evidence that vaping has any long-term health issues. E-cigarettes were only introduced in 2004. The past 14 years is too short to evaluate its long-term effects. It took more than 20 years to establish the long-term harm of cigarettes.

But there is short-term research suggesting that e-cigarettes are harmful. They increase the chances of getting a heart attack and lung disease. And there’s a link between e-cigarette use and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases like bronchitis and emphysema.

E-cigarettes were designed as a tool to help people quit smoking. But there are several studies that show that they do not reduce quit rates. Instead, the studies show that smokers who use e-cigarettes to quit have a 66% less chance of doing so.

We agree that increasing excise taxes is an ideal way to reduce tobacco consumption. The National Council Against Smoking has been calling for the excise taxes to be increased to 70% of the price of cigarettes so that its price covers the harm it causes, which is about R59bn a year.

The reduction in the number of smokers is one of the objectives of the tobacco control legislation bill. The other objectives are to protect people who don’t smoke from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, to reduce the opportunities for minors to take up the habit and to reduce the public health costs associated with smoking. 

Savera Kalideen
Executive Director, National Council Against Smoking