Seychelles will legalize vapor products soon, according to health officials from the African island nation. New legislation will soon be approved by the country’s Cabinet of Ministers.
Seychelles becomes the second recent country to announce the lifting of a vape products ban. The United Arab Emirates announced vape legalization in February after months of discussion.
The new law will define vapes as legal tobacco products and regulate sales, manufacturing and use, according to the Seychelles News Agency. Health officials in Seychelles are fairly positive about the role e-cigarettes might play as an alternative for people who smoke.
“It is a good way to help smokers quit the habit and it is also less detrimental to health as it contains less nicotine and other harmful substances found in real cigarettes,” said Bharathi Viswanathan, of the Prevention and Control of Cardiovascular Diseases department at the Seychelles Hospital.
In 2015, nearly 34 percent of Seychelles men and boys over age 15 smoked, according to the Tobacco Atlas, and more than six percent of women and girls. Recognizing vaping as a potential solution to the health problems caused by cigarettes is not common in African countries, which are often influenced by aid dollars from the decidedly anti-vaping World Health Organization.
Existing Seychelles law prohibits sale, manufacture and importation of “lookalike” tobacco products, which includes vapor products. (Seychelles isn’t the only country with such a weird tobacco law, by the way. Mexico and several other countries also ban “imitation” tobacco products.)
Regulations that accompany the new law will require sellers of vaping products to be licensed, as tobacco retailers and distributors are now. And even though the regulations haven’t been completed, tobacco shops in Seychelles are already making plans to import vaping products from South Africa, according to the Seychelles News Agency.
Seychelles is an archipelago of more than 100 islands in the Indian Ocean, about 900 miles east of Kenya. The small African country has a population of just over 94,000. The islands have no indigenous population, and the culture is a mix of the descendants of French, British, African, Chinese and Indian immigrants. Lying just south of the equator, the climate is tropical and wet, with spectacular beaches and unique native wildlife. Tourism is the primary industry.