VPASA Communication

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Am going to share some of the VPASA communication I receive on their behalf

For those who don't know, VPASA is the Vapour Products Association of South Africa

They are a body that represents the vaping vendors in SA. They have been in existence for several years and were exhibitors at a few VapeCon events. Their CEO is Asanda Gcoyi.

This is the way they describe themselves on their website:
"Vapour Products Association of South Africa (VPASA) represents manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers of smoke-free vapour products in South Africa. We have come together to work with government and other stakeholders to develop legal regulations and standards for our industry and to ensure that consumers have access to all available information about vapour products."

You can check them out here:
www.vpasa.org.za

Our very own @Rob Fisher is helping them too

I think its good to keep an eye on what they're doing. They are trying to do the right things for our industry.

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August 2021 VPASA Newsletter

Dear Subscriber

South Africans continue to face many challenges and the recent spate of unrest is yet another example fraught with the complexities of our country’s ongoing grapple with socio-political and economic tensions. As an organisation built on community, we would like to proffer our support to those affected by the events and implore you to share any information about vaping businesses that may have been affected.

A challenge we as a community continue to face is that of the misinformation and disinformation surrounding vaping. Just this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a new report that recommends governments better regulate vapes and e-cigarettes, which the organisation claims could be a gateway to tobacco consumption.

With the Conference of the Parties (COP9) around the corner, we are disappointed that the WHO is once again ignoring the science that points to the benefits of vaping as a tool for harm reduction. Instead, we are fully aligned with the rhetoric of the United Kingdom Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) that asserts the report is regressive and does not take into account the benefits of harm reduction that the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) initially proposed, as an approach to lessening the health burden of combustible tobacco.

In keeping with our promise to follow the science and collaborate with our members, the South African vaping industry will soon have an updated and honest reflection of its market contribution to South Africa’s economy. Following the separate consultation process in May with the Department of Health on the socio-economic impact assessment (SEIA) study on tobacco and related products, VPASA undertook its own economic impact assessment study, which will be released to the public soon.

We have furthermore reconnected with the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) to implement vaping standards for our industry. Thus far, we have submitted names to form part of the sub-committee on standards; the process has included a consideration of all industry players to ensure the industry receives fair and impartial representation, and we hope it will be finalised by the end of the year. This is yet another step that we are taking to ensure that our industry operates to the highest standards.

As always, we encourage you to continue to engage with us on all these topics – whether via questions or suggestions.

Sincerely,

Asanda Gcoyi, CEO
 

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Instead, we are fully aligned with the rhetoric of the United Kingdom Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA)

rhetoric ?

"Rhetoric is speaking or writing that's intended to persuade. ... When people listened eagerly to long speeches and studied them in school, rhetoric was generally used positively; now it is often a negative term, implying artfulness over real content."
 

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rhetoric ?

"Rhetoric is speaking or writing that's intended to persuade. ... When people listened eagerly to long speeches and studied them in school, rhetoric was generally used positively; now it is often a negative term, implying artfulness over real content."

agreed @Puff the Magic Dragon , I think a better word to use would have been ‘view’
 

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September 2021 VPASA Newsletter

Dear Subscriber

You will recall that last month, I mentioned VPASA was in the process of compiling data from our own economic impact assessment study and I am pleased to let you know that the report has now been completed.

The Economic Impact of the Vaping Industry in South Africa report is an updated and honest reflection of our sector’s market contribution to the South African economy. The report, along with supporting visuals, will be launched to the media and to our community this month. We think you will find the results to be quite eye-opening, and we do hope you are able to share these findings with your own networks across social media as soon as they go live.

Additionally, VPASA is working with a consultant to expedite the process of adopting vaping standards for our industry, benchmarked with the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). Our preferred approach has always been to amend the standards in line with our local requirements, however, we have subsequently been informed that an imported standard cannot be amended prior to adoption. The good news is that the standard does not become operational until all amendments have been made and will mean the adoption of the standard will not affect local trading conditions until all amendments have been accepted.

In early September, we will be attending the first stakeholder meeting by SABS, along with other relevant stakeholders. The feedback from this engagement will provide clarity on what we should anticipate and work towards, and we will ensure we keep you informed of all developments relating to the vaping standards.

Also taking place in September is a webinar presentation titled Disruptive Innovation: The New Face of Free Market Revolution, which will take place on Thursday, 9 September. We would like to urge you to attend this event, which will cover international best practices in the United States, Canada and New Zealand. The session promises to be enlightening and we are looking forward to further exploring how we can include some of those countries’ best practices in South Africa’s regulatory framework.

Please continue to engage with us on all these topics and more – whether via questions or suggestions.

Sincerely,

Asanda Gcoyi, CEO
 

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October 2021 VPASA Newsletter

Dear Subscriber

Last month, we launched an updated and honest reflection of our sector’s market contribution to the South African economy. The Economic Impact of the Vaping Industry in South Africa report highlights important data that supports our ongoing efforts to include international best practices in South Africa’s regulatory framework. Among these are the fact that the industry generated 3,800 jobs, paid R280 million in taxes and had a R390-million gross value-added contribution to the economy in 2019 alone – and that was just its direct impact. A broad overview of the sector shows its support of an additional 4,200 jobs, and a 40% and 31% spend with two adjacent industries – financial and business services and manufacturing.

These numbers are nothing to scoff at.

Despite this, and the myriad studies and research pointing to vaping being 95% less harmful than traditional tobacco products, the South African government and media are hesitant to consider anything less than the status quo. This should not discourage us.

Instead, we must broaden our call for evidence-backed, scientific news to be published; news that will assist vapers and current and former smokers to receive important information related to reducing the harmful effects of tobacco and providing them with alternative options that are less harmful. To this end, VPASA continues to strive towards expediting the process of adopting vaping standards for our industry, benchmarked with the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).

The Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF) which took place last week had speakers echo the above sentiment quite succinctly. A member of the House of Lords and the parliamentary science and technical committee, Lord Matt Ridley mentioned that life was replete with examples of activities less harmful than the alternative, yet politicians banned and overregulated harm-reducing nicotine replacement products. You can read the piece for more takeaways from the GTNF covered by Chris Bateman for Medical Brief South Africa via the link under vaping news.

Please continue to engage with us on all these topics and more – whether via questions or suggestions.

Sincerely,

Asanda Gcoyi, CEO
 

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November 2021 VPASA Newsletter

Dear Subscriber

As we kick off November, our focus as VPASA has been firmly on the Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) which takes place between 8 and 13 November.

The Conference of the Parties is an extremely important event in that it will ultimately decide on wide-sweeping regulations for the vapour products industry. Despite this, the industry has no involvement whatsoever in discussions or decisions. The COP is the authoritative decision-making body of the Convention and all countries who are ratified to the Convention will be required to account for the recommended guidelines.

Many organizations working in harm reduction and tobacco control have already expressed their concerns about the WHO’s decision-making process. As VPASA, we share these concerns. The WHO’s position on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENNDS), classes them as similar to tobacco products, which fails to take into account the risk-reduced benefits they offer.

Last month, VPASA wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa, to Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, and to Parliament to highlight our concerns about COP9’s undemocratic and one-sided processes, which we believe will produce regressive outcomes for smokers and those who have quit smoking in favour of ENNDS products.

We have requested that South Africa adopts a measured approach during COP9 and that the President commits to working with countries like Canada, France, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, who are taking an evidence-led approach to tobacco harm reduction and who have included vapour products in their strategies to reduce tobacco harms.

As part of these COP9 initiatives, VPASA hosted a diginar which took place on Tuesday, 2 November ahead of COP9. The panel included leading independent experts in the fields of health and public policy, such as Health Professions Council of South Africa President Dr Kgosi Letlape, UKVIA Director John Dunne, New Zealand behavioural scientist Dr Marewa Glover as well as Director of Counterfactual, Clive Bates. Topics that were discussed include:
  • WHO Decision-making: Whither Democracy? Outcomes of APPG Inquiry,
  • Tobacco Harm Reduction: Role for ENDS? The Case of New Zealand,
  • Ideology Driven Regulation for ENDS: What is the Impact on Least Developed and Middle Income Countries? Should the FCTC be Reconsidered?,
  • South Africa as Leader in Tobacco Control: Standing Up for the Rights of Poor Smokers.
The diginar was and is still open to the public, and I urge those of you interested in the topic to watch the session and engage with us about what we believe was a very enlightening discussion. Find the link to the recording below.

We welcome your continued engagement on topics affecting and impacting our industry and encourage you to continue to submit questions or suggestions.

Sincerely,

Asanda Gcoyi, CEO
 

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December 2021 VPASA Newsletter

Dear Subscriber

Another year has passed and with it, many engagements on global regulations for electronic vapour products (EVPs) and electronic nicotine delivery systems/electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS).

Last month saw the Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), where, as suspected, the WHO stood firmly by their position that EVPs and ENDS/ENNDS must be classified in the same way as tobacco products. This is despite numerous studies over the past few years proving that harm reduction is an effective tool and can go a long way to reducing the burden of an already stretched healthcare system.

Additionally, the South African delegation reportedly came away from the conference having dismissed tobacco harm reduction as a strategy. This is extremely concerning, especially as South Africa views itself as a nation that looks to science first. This was clearly illustrated over the weekend when the Presidency slammed countries that imposed a travel ban on South Africa after our scientists discovered the new omicron variant of COVID-19. If our government wishes to not be hypocritical in their approach to look to science first, our Department of Health should also not punish vapers and former smokers for pursuing less harmful alternatives to tobacco.

In light of this, there is still plenty of work to be done in the new year to ensure adequate education about less harmful alternatives to tobacco and harm reduction overall. VPASA aims to continue forging ahead with our efforts for recognition of vapour products as a harm reduction alternative to combustible cigarettes.

While we must ensure we keep our eyes on the end goal, we must also take this moment to reflect on the many significant achievements this year. Most specifically, our youth access prevention campaign in the second quarter, which received widespread media attention and was praised as a forward-thinking initiative despite the industry still being unregulated. In 2022, we will continue to amplify this message while ensuring vapour products remain available to adult users looking for a less harmful alternative to cigarettes.

And of course, we must thank you, our community of members, for your support throughout the year – whether this was through attendance at events, sharing of stories, following and reposting our content and encouraging fellow vapers to get involved.

As we say farewell to another year, we wish you a joyous festive season and happy holidays.

Sincerely,

Asanda Gcoyi, CEO
 

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January 2022 VPASA Newsletter

Dear Subscriber

At the start of 2021, we proclaimed that we would fight the good fight of tobacco harm reduction – a promise we are proud to say we kept and will continue to do as we face 2022.

January is a time of reflection and planning for the future, which is why we want to use this moment to thank you for your continued support in our efforts to demonstrate the critical difference between electronic vapour products (EVPs) and electronic nicotine delivery systems/electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS). Over the past year, we have further seen how the South African vaping industry can contribute to both the fiscus and the betterment of the lives of millions of smokers seeking harm-reduced alternatives to traditional cigarettes.
The year ahead will see a continuation of our core objectives:
  • Promoting vaping as an alternative and less harmful modality to cigarette smoking
  • Lobbying for fair, balanced and scientific regulation of the vaping industry
  • Educating consumers about EVPs and ENDS/ENNDS and their harm-reduced benefits
  • Promoting the responsible adult use of vapour products
  • Promoting the prevention of youth access to vapour products.
It is our hope to once more run our Youth Access Prevention campaign in 2022, as this was an extremely successful project that helped garner further attention and support for our main cause. While we discontinued our Vaping Conversations series of webinars in 2021, we will be bringing other exciting webinars to you in 2022 – please do keep a look out for more information on these and participate where possible. It is only through our collective efforts that we can make a real change in the lives of vapers, former smokers and those still seeking less harmful alternatives to combustible tobacco.

Our fight has become even more challenging as the National Treasury (NT) has published a discussion paper on the taxation of electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems on 15 December 2021. Their deadline for comments on this proposal is for 25 January 2022.

We trust you’ve had a relaxing break and are ready to once again join hands with us as the industry faces its next bout of challenges.

Sincerely,

Asanda Gcoyi, CEO
 

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February 2022 VPASA Newsletter

Dear Subscriber

We welcome the decision by the National Treasury (NT) to extend the deadline for public comments on the published discussion paper around a South African vaping excise. It's been 2 long years since the 2020 Budget Speech when then Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced plans to tax ENDS/ENNDS. The Vapour Products Association of South Africa (VPASA) has anticipated this for the longest time and our call for a moratorium on ENDS/ENNDS taxation remains valid.

To echo what we said in February 2021, our focus remains on the fight against a tax for ENDS/ENNDS as well as to secure legislation that views vapour products separately from combustible tobacco products. Considering the extension, our pleas are not falling on deaf ears. We urge you all to take full advantage of this opportunity and submit your comments as well to vaping_tax@treasury.gov.za by Monday, 7 February 2022.

Following the 2020 lockdown and the ban of the sale of ENDS/ENNDS products, VPASA has endeavoured to demonstrate the critical difference between ENDS/ENNDS and tobacco products to the government and other stakeholders. Over the last 2 years, we have commissioned an economic impact assessment highlighting the economic contribution the vaping industry makes to the South African economy. This study, of course, needs an update as its findings may no longer be valid to the economic disruptions resulting from the 2020 ban. This is critically important for demonstrating to the National Treasury that the imposition of a tax over the next few years would ruin our industry.

We are cautiously optimistic that NT will fairly consider the above factors as well as the immense amount of international research findings and case studies that demonstrate the unintended consequences of rash imposition of excise on vaping products. This includes a switch back to smoking and the proliferation of a black market and ‘home brews’. This will also set back our fight to distinguish vaping from smoking and our promotion of tobacco harm reduction as an alternative to quit or die strategies.

Despite the many challenges we’ve faced thus far, our voice continues to grow stronger in the media and we are gaining local and international allies to amplify our voice. Again, we need to escalate our efforts to ensure a solid future for the industry through the promotion of less harmful alternatives voices for smokers and product safety. Your support here, now more than ever is paramount.

Sincerely,

Asanda Gcoyi, CEO
 

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March 2022 VPASA Newsletter

Dear Subscriber

We have taken note of the comments and concerns expressed by some members of the South African vaping community regarding statements made by the Minister of Finance during the Budget Speech on 23 February 2022. As you would all know, the National Treasury released a draft tax proposal on 15 December 2021. VPASA, along with other industry players and consumers made comments on this process.

Our focus remains on the fight against a tax for ENDS/ENNDS. We are readier than ever to present our case, bolstered by an ever-growing volume of health studies that show vaping as a less harmful alternative to smoking. VPASA will participate fully in workshops to be convened by the National Treasury to review the rationale for such a tax. In this, we will rely on your support.

VPASA shared a media release with our response to the proposal which you can read below. Our sentiment remains the same as it has for the past 2 years.

We urge you to join VPASA in advocating for no tax on vaping as it will stifle the industry’s growth and hamper the vaping industry's contribution to the country’s health agenda.

Sincerely,

Asanda Gcoyi, CEO
 

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I did not receive an April newsletter, but will post the May newsletter below
 

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May 2022 VPASA Newsletter

Dear Subscriber

April was an eventful month for the Vapour Products Association of South Africa (VPASA) as well as the international vaping industry. The month was characterized by an all-important workshop between vaping industry stakeholders, the National Treasury, and the Department of Health. Furthermore, April saw the month-long running of an awareness campaign called VApril, spearheaded by the United Kingdom Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA). which was aimed at educating people on vaping and helping smokers to switch to a healthier alternative.

Following industry stakeholders’ submissions on the Taxation of Electronic Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems, we participated in the virtual workshop which was the first consultation post the publication of the Discussion Paper from the National Treasury.

We were excited about the event as it was something we had been hoping to attend for quite some time. We always emphasize the importance of allowing industry stakeholders to raise their voices on regulatory issues that impact them across the vaping supply chain. National Treasury ended the session having promised the industry a revised discussion paper in the coming months. We hope for positive feedback and more opportunities for our industry to be fairly and separately regulated from combustible tobacco products.

We still have a long road ahead in advocating for tobacco harm reduction strategies to be adopted by health regulators which is why awareness and education are important for smokers looking to quit. The UKVIA’s VApril Awareness Campaign was a testament to that. The end of April marks the end of the campaign but its tenets about informing smokers to choose to switch stays with all tobacco harm reduction advocates indefinitely. Key messaging of the campaign about addressing misinformation and the benefits of vaping will echo on. We urge you to join the conversation around tobacco harm reduction and continue to engage with us via our social media and most importantly, share our cause.

Sincerely,

Asanda Gcoyi, CEO
 

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It’s honestly a pity that VPASA is not visible enough and active on this forum despite the big number of vape enthusiasts present here that would be glad to lend a helping hand.
 
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It’s honestly a pity that VPASA is not visible enough and active on this forum despite the big number of ape enthusiasts present here that would be glad to lend a helping hand.

It is very difficult for the limited staff and the amount of work they do. They do a lot of lobbying and spend a massive amount of time dealing with government departments. I know because I am a board member of VPASA.

But you are 100% right.
 

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It is very difficult for the limited staff and the amount of work they do. They do a lot of lobbying and spend a massive amount of time dealing with government departments. I know because I am a board member of VPASA.

But you are 100% right.
Thank you Rob for all you do for vaping

It’s incredible. Your passion and enthusiasm is unwavering

And we do have VPASA right here with us :cool:
 

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June 2022 VPASA Newsletter

Dear Subscriber,

We are entering the last month of the second quarter and four weeks to the halfway mark of 2022 - where has the time gone? May was a busy month for us, and here's why.

The core of VPASA is the promotion of tobacco harm reduction. This was our focus for the month of May. As part of International Harm Reduction Day on the 7th of May, we shone a spotlight on tobacco harm reduction through a myriad of themed activities. This includes my coffee chat with the Africa Harm Reduction Alliance (AHRA) on the work of the association in South Africa on advocating for tobacco harm reduction. We have prioritized raising awareness about the differences between smoking and vaping at a community level through community-based media as many people still confuse the two with each other. It is alarming how the basic differences between vaping and smoking are still not understood, and we recognise that we need to lead this initiative if we are to move people from combustible cigarettes to less harmful alternatives like vaping.

Globally, the E-Cig Summit took place in the US. This was the first time the event was hybridized. The theme for this year was Science, Regulation, and Public Health. An interesting topic that was discussed was how the FDA's draconian actions through the Pre-Market Tobacco Applications (PMTA) process have been the main contributor to the vilification of vaping products. The discussion mirrored VPASA’s efforts to call out the Department of Health and anti-tobacco lobbyists for their deliberate misrepresentation and outright falsehoods about the harms of vaping.

May has shown us that the work we do is impactful. We are ecstatic that there is finally movement on getting vaping standards for South Africa. We approached The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) more than a year ago to initiate this process, and that there is finally a technical committee that has been put together is very welcome. Industry players who are keen to be included on the committee can contact SABS (info@sabs.co.za and quote TC2112 in the subject line). On the consumer side of things, Vaping Saved My Life (VSML), a local consumer advocacy group has concluded its 90-day social experiment with very positive results. Their report details all of this. Check it out and spread the good word!

We ended May on a high note; we celebrated World Vape Day 2022. I joined consumer advocates and industry stalwarts in a live stream to commemorate the day and strides made in South Africa. The global vaping industry also held a myriad of events around this topic to highlight the importance of tobacco harm reduction. We will piggyback on this positive momentum and apply it in June's focus - youth! You already know that youth access prevention is our priority!

Sincerely,

Asanda Gcoyi, CEO
 
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