Health minister Kalicharan Saraf is saying that this is one of a series of efforts to discourage use of tobacco products in the state in order to prevent cancer. However, many public health experts agree that such motions are ironic to say the least.
A number of local organisations and activists have welcomed the move. “If Rajasthan bans e-cigarettes, it will be next state in the country to impose ban on e-cigarettes. So far, states, including Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Mizoram Jammu-Kashmir and Maharashtra have banned e-cigarettes. But in Rajasthan e-cigarettes are sold in medical shops and even online,” said Jayesh Joshi, Secretary of Vaagdhara, an organization working for tobacco control in Rajasthan.
Inline with what Joshi said, only last month, the high court for the states of Punjab and Haryana, issued a notice to ban nicotine containing vaping products, while the Eastern Indian state of Bihar implemented a total e-cigarette ban which includes the sales, manufacturing, distribution, purchase, display, and online sales of the products last January.
India needs to consider policies that would facilitate smoking cessation
Last September, Dr. Siddiqi and Prof. Sharan wrote yet another letter addressed to the Union Minister, urging him to avert a public health disaster by regulating electronic cigarettes rather than ban them. “We believe that public health in India is at a greater risk under a prohibitive environment than by allowing smokers, who wish to cease tobacco use, an alternative option based on nicotine replacement via e-cigarettes.” said Prof. Sharan.
In line with what several studies have been indicating, the scientists pointed out that the devices have been shown to lead to decreased smoking rates in the countries where they have been endorsed. Infact, thanks to the advent of vaping, the UK who has fully endorsed the devices as part of smoking cessation programs, is reporting the lowest number of smokers ever recorded.
The dangerous spreading of misinformation
However, sadly, misinformation about the products is still spreading like wildfire. According to an article on the Times of India, a cancer surgeon at AIIMS in Jodhpur released a statement saying that e-cigarettes are certainly as harmful as regular cigarettes. A statement that could have deadly repercussions, when recalling that on the contrary a study published on BMJ Tobacco Control last August, clearly indicated that the cancer risk derived from vaping is at least 1% that of getting it from smoking.