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Another Indian state faces vape ban

In a further blow to India’s vapers, public health officials are now pushing for a total ban on harm reduction products in the state of Maharashtra. The state is India’s third largest, has a population of over 112 million people and is the richest and most industrialised region of India; it also contains Mumbai, the country’s most populous city.

Much of India’s public health law is devolved to a state level, and Maharashtra’s Food and Drug Administration has been trying to impose a ban on vapour products throughout the state. So far, it hasn’t been able to; the national government says that nicotine can’t be regulated because it’s not a new drug, and vapour products aren’t food. This puts them outside the state FDA’s authority.

Instead of accepting the fact that they don’t have the power to impose a ban, the FDA is now trying to get other agencies to do it for them. This week they approached the state law and judiciary department and asked them to suggest legal provisions that could be used to outlaw harm reduction.

Vaping is already illegal in several Indian states, and Punjab successfully prosecuted a shop owner for supplying e-cigarettes last year. The country’s medical establishment is several years behind even the EU when it comes to evaluating the evidence, and so far there are no signs of progress.

Thai police “assault internet star” for having an e-cig

Police in Thailand are denying that they assaulted a popular internet personality who was caught in possession of an e-cigarette, an offence that violates the country’s strict anti-harm reduction laws. Twenty-five-year-old Manussaya Yaowarat, better known by her online name of Flukesri Maneedeng, was in a car with a friend at around 5am last Sunday when they were stopped by police. A search of the car found a vaporiser and liquid in the centre console. At this point Yaowarat claims the police assaulted her, held her in a neck lock and grabbed her hair.

The police claim that Yaowarat was abusive and resisted being put in a cell – photos have emerged showing her being dragged up steps in a police station. They also claim she continued to be disruptive in the cell block, so was eventually taken to a court and released on bail. Possession of vapour products in Thailand can lead to a sentence of up to ten years in jail.

Glantz digs in but hints new accusations imminent

Controversial tobacco control activist Stanton Glantz, who was taken to court for sexual harassment last week by a former protégé, has denied all the allegations via a post on his blog. Dr Eunice Neeley has accused Glantz of a catalogue of sexual and racial harassment stretching over two years, at the end of which she was forced to leave her job at the University of California to escape further abuse from the 71-year-old professor; she also says Glantz has attempted to claim her work as his own. Now she wants compensation for the distress she suffered as well as for loss of future earnings, which could be substantial – despite its chequered history of anti-smoker activism, UCSF is one of the world’s most prestigious medical schools and completing her research there would have significantly boosted Neeley’s employability.

While Glantz claims that none of the accusations against him are true, his blog concedes that this isn’t an isolated case; another researcher who worked with Neeley also intends to sue him. According to Glantz her claims are also false. Meanwhile veteran researcher Carl V Phillips has written that, as bad as the harassment allegations against Glantz are, Neeley’s claim that Glantz appropriated her work is even worse.

Canadian vape trial aims to cut homeless smoking

A doctor in Ottawa is planning a new clinical trial among the city’s homeless people, to investigate whether vaping can help them quit smoking. Dr Smita Pakhalé wants to recruit 200 homeless people for a comparative trial of traditional nicotine therapies and vapour products.

The smoking rate in Ottawa is only 9%, but among the homeless that rises to around 90%. Pakhalé believes that e-cigarettes might have the potential to cut that, because as well as delivering nicotine effectively they mimic the rituals smokers are used to. So far Canada’s policies on vaping have been on the negative side, but if some public health workers are starting to see the positives that could signal some improvements.