The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has announced that it recently established a National Technical Committee to develop South African National Standards to guide the use of vaping products.
“Vaping and vaping products are increasingly popular in South Africa both in terms of recreational use and in economic activity,” said SABS lead Jodi Scholtz.
Scholtz said it is estimated that about 350,000 people use vaping products and that sales in 2019 amounted to R1.25 billion.
“As the industry grows, there is a need to establish national standards that guide the quality of the products and provide consumers with some assurance that the electronic devices and products used in vaping are safe to use.”
SABS technical committee 2112 will only focus on non-tobacco products, and the standards will be for voluntary application. Only products that wish to display the SABS mark will have to comply.
“Vaping is the use of an inhalation device that vaporise liquid solutions which may contain nicotine and other ingredients,” the bureau noted.
“Tobacco is currently regulated in South Africa through the Tobacco Products Control Act 83 of 1993.”
The Department of Health has a draft bill on the control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems undergoing public enquiry.
The SABS technical committee will focus on vaping products and consider the inclusions of this draft bill.
SABS technical committee 2112 will be responsible for the setting of guidelines and promoting standardisation in the field of vaping products, covering:
- Electronic vaping products and their components
- Requirements for prefilled cartridges and reservoirs
- Terminology, sampling, methods of test and analysis
- Product specifications
- Safety, quality management and requirements for packaging, storage and transportation
Scholtz said there are no guidelines or regulations for vaping products in South Africa and the African region.
Plans to host the first committee meeting are underway and will be confirmed as soon as commitment from regulators and other key stakeholders is received.
“Once consensus has been reached amongst the TC participants, the draft standard will go through a public enquiry stage, wherein members of the public may comment and submit input into the draft standard,” said Scholtz.
“All comments are then taken into account in the next stage of developing the draft standard into a national standard.”
Scholtz explained that, on average, it takes about 300 days to develop a national standard from scratch.
However, the duration of the process is dependent on several factors, such as the availability and commitment of members of the technical committee, and the availability of published research and documents.
Consensus within committees, the robustness of the public enquiry stage, and various other logistical requirements can also impact the timeframe.
Scholtz said any organisation or individual interested in participating in SABS Technical Committee 2112 could express their interest by email to [email protected]
Finance minister Enoch Godongwana proposed a stiff new tax for vaping liquids earlier this year.
Godongwana announced the government had tabled a tax of at least R2.90 per millilitre of vaping liquid from 1 January 2023.
He said the tax would have to go through public consultation first, although he wished he could implement it immediately.
A typical bottle of vape juice in South Africa contains either 100ml or 120ml, which means an additional R290 to R348 in taxes — effectively doubling the price.
National Treasury’s chief director for economic tax analysis, Chris Axelson, said only taxing vaping liquid containing nicotine was an attractive policy idea.
However, an exemption for vape juice without nicotine would complicate enforcement.