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Doctors urge PM to ban e-cigarettes

Say they encourage nicotine addiction, lobby sharing misleading information

March 25, 2019 12:47 am | Updated 12:47 am IST - Mumbai

The doctors have expressed concern about the increasing interest of the youth in ENDS. AFP

The doctors have expressed concern about the increasing interest of the youth in ENDS. AFP

Doctors across the country have joined hands to push the government to ban Electronic Nicotine Delivery Devices (ENDS) in India. As many as 1,061 doctors from across the country have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to stop ENDS in India before they become an epidemic.

The doctors in their letter stated that ENDS such as e-cigarettes, vaping devices, e-sheesha, e-nicotine-flavoured hookah, and heat-not-burn devices are being promoted as safer alternatives to smoking, and have expressed concern about the increasing interest of the youth in ENDS.

One of the signatories, head and neck surgeon Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi from Tata Memorial Hospital said, “It will not be an exaggeration if nicotine is considered as poison.”

“It is sad that the ENDS lobby has assembled a group of physicians who are sharing misleading and distorted information to suit the ENDS industry,” said Dr. Chaturvedi in a press statement.

In August last year, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) had stopped the manufacture, sale, distribution, import, trade and advertisement of ENDS, citing the risk posed to children, adolescents, and women in the reproductive age. The doctors, who wrote to the PM under the Voice of Tobacco Victims campaign, said 12 States have already banned ENDS based on the health ministry’s directive.

While the doctors say ENDS should not be confused with Nicotine Replacement Therapy offered to those who want to quit, makers and users of ENDS argue that smokers who want to quit deserve potentially less risky alternatives to cigarettes. The Association of Vapers India (AVI), a non-profit, claims that vaping has helped smokers transition from their dependence on tobacco to an alternative that is at least 95% safer than combustible tobacco products like cigarettes.

But doctors say what ENDS users see as a harm-reduction strategy or an effective way of curbing the addiction is actually pushing them to become regular smokers. “ENDS products are creating an additional market for nicotine-based products and sustaining the existing cigarette market,” the letter said.

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