New rules for the electronic cigarette and vaping planned for South Africa

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) says it has established a National Technical Committee (TC) to develop South African national standards to guide the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products.

Currently, there are no guidelines or regulations for vaping manufacturing in South Africa and the SABS will be responsible for setting guidelines and promoting standardization in the field, covering electronic vaping products and their components, including cartridges and tanks.

The office also wants to define guidelines on terminology, sampling, test and analysis methods, product specifications, safety, quality management and requirements for packaging, storage and transportation.

The SABS noted that vaping and vaping products are increasingly popular in South Africa in terms of both recreational use and economic activity. It is estimated that around 350,000 people use vaping products and sales in 2019 amounted to Rand 1.25 billion.

“As the industry grows, there is a need to establish national standards that guide product quality and provide consumers with some assurance that electronic devices and products used in vaping are safe to use,” said Jodi Scholtz, principal administrator of the SAB.

The office will focus only on products other than tobacco.

Currently, the Department of Health has a bill on the control of tobacco products and electronic delivery systems that is under public scrutiny. The SABS said it will focus on vaping products and take into account the inclusions of the draft law, with the understanding that the standards are voluntary in nature.

Vaping is the use of an inhalation device that vaporizes liquid solutions that may contain nicotine and other ingredients.

Scholtz said plans to host the first technical committee meeting are clandestine and will be confirmed as soon as the commitment of regulators and other key stakeholders is confirmed. The SABS stressed that it will develop national standards for voluntary application.

“Currently in South Africa and the African region there are no guidelines / regulations for vaping products, the TC will review existing regional / international standards, guidelines, research, policies and other documents to develop voluntary national standards for South Africa.

“Once consensus is reached among TC participants, the draft standard will go through a public investigation phase, in which members of the public can comment and / or present input into the draft standard. All comments are then taken into account in the next stage of developing the draft standard into a national standard (SANS), ”said Scholtz.

Scholtz said it takes on average about 300 days to develop a national standard from scratch; however, the length of the process depends on the availability and commitment of TC members, the availability of published research and documents, consensus within the TCs, the robustness of the public investigation phase, and various other logistical requirements.


Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said the government is proposing to introduce a new tax on vaping products of at least R2.90 per milliliter starting January 1, 2023.

The Treasury proposes to introduce a specific excise tax on non-nicotine and nicotine solutions used in e-cigarettes and intends to use its existing policy guidelines applicable to other excisable products to do so.

He expelled a discussion card on the taxation of electronic cigarettes and vaping products in December 2021. It is proposed to use a 40% incidence guideline which results in a total excise duty ranging from a minimum of R33.30 to R346.00 with an average of R165. 29

With this approach, the rate of excise duty can be set at an average of R2.91 per milliliter spread over the nicotine and non-nicotine elements of the solution based on a ratio of 70:30, respectively. This will imply a rate of R2.03 per milligram of nicotine and 87 cents per milliliter for liquid.

“The reason for the higher nicotine ratio is to ensure that products with a high nicotine concentration apply a relatively higher rate than nicotine products that are lower, while non-nicotine products also apply an excise duty. “said the authors of the document.

Law firm Webber Wentzel said that the National Treasury’s proposals to tax e-cigarette solutions that do not contain tobacco or nicotine may, in particular, be questioned by some stakeholders, as they do not necessarily support the stated political intention of the government to reduce the consumption of tobacco products.

“It could also stimulate the illicit trade in e-cigarettes, as has happened in the tobacco sector.”

Reading: Concern about the new e-cigarette and vape rules planned for South Africa