Group questions Centre advisory on e-cigarette ban

The recent advisory issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to the State government seeking a ban on sale of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), including e-cigarettes and vape devices, is based on “poor advice, lack of scientific evidence and complete absence of basis,” said a group representing e-cigarette users across the country.

The Association of Vapers India (AVI), an organisation that represents e-cigarette users across the country, has hit back at the Centre and questioned the motive behind the advisory.

“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 The advisory must be withdrawn immediately...,” noted a release issued by the group.

Evidence over the past two years has shown that both e-cigarettes and vape devices cut down risk by over 95%, they claimed. The AVI also asked why the government has not banned tobacco cigarettes if it is so concerned about nicotine.

The body rubbished the government’s contention that vaping will increase smoking rates among teenagers, citing evidence to the contrary based on a survey of 60,000 teenagers by UK-based Public Health England.

“This claim is bogus as smoking rates among the youth are declining in all countries that 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.

The body also contested the government’s claim that e-vapour has significant presence of metals.

“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,” Mr. Chowdhery said.

Deepak Mukarji of The Alternatives, which advocates harm reduction to people and the planet, said, “The Alternatives is disappointed with the Central government’s directive on e-cigarettes. This retrograde step denies harm reduction and potentially lifesaving alternatives to smokers by ignoring science and its emerging technologies. The United Kingdom parliamentary Science and Technology Committee report is a good basis for India to relook at the science and evidence towards implementing legislation that can regulate product development, manufacture, and distribution of licensed smoke-cessation and harm reduction vaping products.”

Evidence that the government claims to have, the AVI said, is either outdated or intentionally misinterpreted. It is widely accepted by all major scientific institutions — from the Royal College of Physicians, the American Cancer Society, the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering and the US FDA — that e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful than combustible cigarettes.

The association also blamed the government for presenting a wrong picture by selectively citing World Health Organization data — that 30 countries have banned e-cigarettes — while holding back information that 65 nations had allowed and regulated the same. Moreover, countries that have banned e-cigarettes, barring outlier Australia, are small nations and those with dubious record in public health.

“On the other hand, those who have embraced e-cigarettes are among world’s most advanced nations and include the European Union, the United Kingdom, the US, Canada and New Zealand,” Mr. Chowdhery said.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 8:36:27 PM |

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