All you need to know to start selling vape products

Richard James on 22 July 2019
All you need to know to start selling vape products

As a popular alternative to smoking cigarettes, vaping has quickly grown into a successful global industry. Already booming in South Africa, we’ve taken a look at what is needed to start a vaping business and what the future holds for the industry. Read on to see what we’ve found.

What License Do You Need To Open A Vape Shop?

Currently, all you need to start a vape shop in South Africa is a registered private company - a (Pty) Ltd. As it stands there is no other license required to open your shop.

To be honest there has been a lot of confusion surrounding this topic for some time. In a 2017 article, the Go Legal team took an in-depth look at vaping licensing and regulation, speaking to many people including Kabir Kaleechurn, Director of the Vapour Product Association (VPA). In the article Kabir Kaleechurn says: “In South Africa, e-cigarettes are not covered by the Tobacco Products Control Act, or by the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act. It seems that the act of combustion and smoke (doesn’t include) e-cigarettes being regarded as cigarettes. They also do not fall under the Medicines Act as they are marketed solely for recreational purposes.”

What does this mean for you? Until the government decides to pass a bill regulating vaping and e-cigarettes, you would be opening a retail business. So as soon as your company is registered and running, you can start selling vape products.

To read about why you should register your business, we recommend our article The Incredible Benefits of Registering a Company. In it we look at the many amazing reasons to register your business and help you get started.

If you’re ready to register right now, click here.

And If You Want To Make & Sell Vape Liquid?

www.ecigssa.co.za says there are no legal requirements when it comes to making and selling your own brand of vape liquid. As long as you have all the correct labels on your bottles, do not sell to people younger than 18 years old and follow the industry-wide quality control standards.

However, there are some rules and regulations you should be aware of in the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill. It states:

  1. No person shall manufacture for sale or import a tobacco product or electronic delivery system unless it (...) has been tested (...) using prescribed methods.

  2. All relevant products must be imported through the places of entry in the Republic appointed or prescribed in terms of the Customs and Excise Act, 1964 (Act No 91 of 1964). And maybe detained for inspection by the relevant authorities.

  3. Any relevant product which does not comply with the prescribed standards may be destroyed.

What does this mean? You may be better off by working with local companies already producing vape juice and e-cigarette liquid than producing your own. There are loads of people in the market already producing high-quality goods. We’re sure they’ll be able to help you stock your shelves.

For a list of local suppliers, click here.

A Bit About The Vape Industry

Within the industry itself there is a degree of self-regulation, since vaping is still considered similar to smoking by many governments and government officials around the world, including in South Africa. According to VPA the industry is taking steps to protect itself, its customers and its product by committing to a code of conduct. Part of which includes not selling vape products to anyone younger than 18 years old. To read more about that code of conduct, visit vpasa.org.za.

The industry also might seem like an easy one to get into, but it’s a tricky business to run successfully. Vapers buy products based on trends, and trends can change fast, like any other retail business. So it’s important for you to be passionate about the industry and prepared to react to customer needs.

According to the team at Foggas Vape Shop in Rondebosch, you have to eat, sleep and breathe the business to stay on top of the changes. “My social media, my daily conversations, my friendships, they are all about vaping,” explained one of their staff members when we spoke to them. “From the moment I wake up it’s all I think about, I’m checking up on trends online, seeing what’s popular and what’s new. It’s the same for everyone here, which is why I believe we’ve been successful.”

Something To Consider

It’s important to note that the South African government is trying to strictly regulate vaping and e-cigarettes as quickly as possible. So very soon you may need a certain type of license to sell vape products, especially those that contain nicotine, if you are allowed to sell them at all.

From what we can tell, the government plans to regulate e-cigarettes with a ‘hybrid approach’. They see vape juice and e-cigarette products as a ‘medicine’ that will help people quit tobacco products, by vaping instead. According to CANSA, this means that e-cigs could be sold exclusively in pharmacies.

When that will happen we can’t say exactly. But until then, happy selling!