According to a report by the Press Trust of India, this proposal plans to prohibit the sale, manufacture, import and distribution of all ENDS, under Sections 26A and 10A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. The proposal states that, “After revisiting its earlier deliberations, the Drugs Consultative Committee has recommended that concluded that these devices fall under the definition of ‘drug’.

The Indian Council of Medical Research has recommended a “complete ban” on ENDS, saying such devices become a gateway to smoking and can get a non-smoker addicted to nicotine.

Moreover, this move comes highly recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) that has recommended a “complete ban” on ENDS, saying such devices become a gateway to smoking and can get a non-smoker addicted to nicotine. Such a statement is ironic to say the least, when the devices proven to be safer alternatives are being banned but the actual products that are toxic: cigarettes, remain untouched and widely available throughout the country.

In 2017, the Union Health Ministry of India had formed a working group to assess the effect of e-cigarettes on local vapers, in an attempt to find out whether a ban is necessary. This committee had concluded that the products have cancer-causing properties and are highly addictive, based on which the Union government had said it was planning to implement a ban.

Subsequently last September, in an advisory to state governments, the health ministry had said that e-cigarettes and Heat not Burn (HnB)s devices must be banned, as they are “are a great health risk to the public at large, especially to children, adolescents, pregnant women and women of reproductive age”.

Sadly, this statement which would prove counterproductive to the local smoking epidemic, had been welcomed by doctors and health professionals in the city. Dr. Satayanarayana Mysore, head of the department of  interventional pulmonology and sleep medicine at Manipal Hospitals in the city, regards this ban as a positive step in the right direction. “Considering how harmful they are, they must be completely avoided,” he said.

Ignoring scientific data in favour of e-cigarettes

However, in line with arguments by health bodies from across the globe such as Public Health England (PHE), the Association of Vapers India (AVI), an organisation that represents e-cigarette users across the country, is presenting some undeniable facts. “ENDS products are being examined across the world for their benefit in harm reduction and as a pathway to smoking cessation. The advisory must be withdrawn immediately…,” noted a release issued by the group.

Why is the Indian Gov. attacking safer alternatives and not actual cigarettes?

Additionally, the AVI is questioning why, if so concerned about nicotine addiction, is the government not also banning tobacco cigarettes. The organization accurately pointed out that data from around the world indicate that vaping does not lead to increased smoking rates as the health ministry is claiming, on the contrary, it decreases them.

“This claim is bogus as smoking rates among the youth are declining in all countriesthat have allowed vaping. In fact, overall smoking rates have declined at a historical rate after vaping was introduced. This clearly points to the tremendous harm reduction potential of vaping,” said AVI director Samrat Chowdhery.

Chowdhery went on to mention the argument of metals in the products. “Extensive studies have been conducted on presence of metals in e-vapour and it has been consistently found that their presence is too minuscule to cause harm. Smoke released from tobacco cigarettes have much higher levels of metals compared to e-vapour,” he said.

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