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Perks of vaping ‘staggering’

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Research increasingly points to vaping being less harmful than smoking tobacco. Photo: Supplied
Research increasingly points to vaping being less harmful than smoking tobacco. Photo: Supplied

Vaping nicotine is likely to be at least 95% less harmful than tobacco-based products such as cigarettes, cigars, bidis and kreteks.

This is according to studies that found the harmful effects of tobacco products to have become increasingly apparent in recent years, and nicotine products having fewer negative health consequences.

A study commissioned in 2021 by the Vapour Products Association of South Africa (VPASA) revealed nicotine products and vaping as alternatives that, although it is not risk-free, according to scientific evidence are less harmful than smoking and could assist smokers to escape the harm associated with combustible tobacco.

The study also noted the significant economic impact made by the vapour industry, directly and indirectly.

The direct contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) amounted to R930 million, and R280 million accumulated in paid taxes. Vapour product sales in 2019 amounted to R1,25 billion.

The indirect economic impact is R290 million in local procurement, and 40% and 31% was spent with financial and business services and manufacturing, respectively. It supported 4 200 jobs and indirectly contributed R1,09 billion to South Africa’s GDP.

The study shows that more than 350 000 South Africans use vapour products.

Vaping has somehow gained the support of public health authorities around the world, many of which reportedly endorse vaping as a harm reduction tool, much like seat belts and air bags in vehicles.

Kurt Yeo of Vaping Saved My Life said contradiction exists in decision-making.

“Amidst these staggering health and economic benefits, it is difficult to understand why more people are not taking up the opportunity to vape rather than smoke tobacco-based products”.

According to Yeo, the weight of available research, has now proven that nicotine does not cause cancer.

“Therefore, although e-cigarettes contain nicotine they are safer than smoking. E-cigarettes are therefore a viable option for smokers looking to quit cigarettes.”

When it comes to the 2 176 smokers surveyed in 2021, the findings were as follows:

  • 94,8% used traditional tobacco;
  • 82,5% attempted to quit smoking;
  • 78,7% at that stage vaped exclusively; and
  • 68,9% had at that stage vaped for more than 12 months.
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