We have seen strong progression in the fight against tobacco amongst developed countries and in particular the UK, however the same cannot be said for developing countries, notably India. India has the second highest smoking rate on the globe and this has not gone unnoticed but the latest proposed course of action has been heavily scrutinised.
The Indian government are urging e-cigarettes to be banned throughout the country and have already implemented a ban across a number of States under the Drug and Cosmetics Act, 1940. With such a smoking epidemic in India why would the government impose this proposition?
Bhavna Mukhopahyay, Chief Executive, Voluntary Health Association of India said:
“E-cigarettes are just a mechanism to deliver nicotine in an attractive format. They are being marketed as a harm-reduction product, which is contrary to the truth. Youngsters are being lured as it is easily available in different flavours. People should not get lured because e-cigarettes too are harmful”
Times of India stated:
“According to a report by the WHO, e-cigarettes emit nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco products.
“In addition to dependence, nicotine can have adverse effects on the development of the fetus during pregnancy, and may contribute to cardiovascular disease.
“The WHO report further said that though nicotine itself was not a carcinogen, it may function as a “tumour promoter” and seemed to be involved in the biology of malignant disease, as well as of neurodegeneration.”
Different countries and regions must tailor their strategies to fight tobacco to meet the needs of specific cultures however the stance that India are taking is fundamentally flawed. They are totally disregarding the research coming from Public Health England that states ‘E-cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking’.
A more appropriate and beneficial approach would be to take in to account all reliable research in to e-cigarettes alongside the effects that vaping has had on smoking rates all over the world. They could then compare this with the dangers of cigarettes and implement sensible regulation to make the most of an important tobacco harm reduction tool.
As you would expect, experts aren’t happy with the possible e-cigarette ban. A study carried out last year by Reason Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in the US. The conclusion was:
“Making e-cigs accessible in India would decrease the number of smokers by 50%, which would equate to saving around 90 million life-years.”
R.N. Sharan, North-Eastern Hill University and M. Siddiqi, Chairman of Cancer Foundation of India urged the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister to consider the policies in a letter last year by stating:
“The Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS), more popularly known as e-cigarettes, offer a safer and effective way of meeting the physiological demands of nicotine to smokers to help quit or cut down smoking significantly,”
They then sent another letter stating:
“At a time when there is growing support for e-cigarettes in many countries it is regrettable that India appears to be moving in a negative direction. Given the scale of tobacco use in India there is huge potential for tobacco harm reduction.”