Provide smokers option to switch to less harmful products, says CPPR

CPPR chairman Dr. D Dhanuraj said the regulations of e-cigarettes can be framed in a manner that balances the potential use of e-cigarettes as new technology

October 04, 2022 08:30 pm | Updated October 05, 2022 01:01 pm IST - Kochi

Representational image.

Representational image. | Photo Credit: P. V. Sivakumar

Kerala-based Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), an independent public policy organisation, on Tuesday, urged the Union government to provide an alternative to cigarette smokers to switch to some less harmful products.

The CPPR, which released a White Paper on regulatory regimes for novel tobacco and nicotine products, called upon the government to take on a "multi-dimensional and scientific evidence-backed stance" in adopting harm reduction alternatives for the betterment of its citizens.

"Mounting evidence from across the world indicates that the regulatory regimes governing e-cigarettes’ usage should not have an all-or-nothing approach for circumventing harm," CPPR said.

It said while being a harmful product in its own right, e-cigarettes are increasingly being recognised as a viable alternative to conventional cigarettes.

"They deliver the addictive component, that is, nicotine without the harmful elements of tobacco smoke. The paucity of scientific evidence on [the] long-term impact of e-cigarettes, in support and opposition of e-cigarettes, has resulted in diverging policies internationally," CPPR said in a release.

CPPR chairman Dr. D Dhanuraj said the regulations of e-cigarettes can be framed in a manner that balances the potential use of e-cigarettes as new technology to reduce the use of or as an alternative that reduces risk and harm from combustible tobacco products.

"On the pretext of tobacco “epidemic”, the government of India imposed a blanket ban on the production, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage, and advertisement of electronic cigarettes with the passing of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Act, 2019," CPPR said.

Anu Anna Jo, a senior research associate of the CPPR, said many countries, including the UK, Canada and New Zealand which are widely considered leaders in tobacco control, have chosen the path of regulating less risky alternatives like Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) thereby adding further strength to their tobacco control measures.

CPPR said the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had recommended the prohibition of e-cigarettes in India owing to reasons like increased use by youth, harmful health effects and potential to convert users to smoking.

"Based on this, the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Act, 2019 was enacted which prohibits e-cigarettes, where e-cigarettes have been defined to include all forms of 'ENDS, Heat not Burn products, e-hookah and the like devices'. This blanket definition is likely to create confusion as Heat not Burn (HNB) products differ from ENDS (which includes e-cigarettes). HNB products contain or use tobacco and not liquid nicotine (which is the case for ENDS and e-cigarettes), hence they should be governed and regulated as tobacco products," CPPR said.

CPPR is an independent public policy organisation dedicated to in-depth research and scientific analysis with the objective of delivering actionable ideas that could transform society.

India has upwards of 200 million users of tobacco and related products, second only to China. Tobacco consumption-related illnesses are a gargantuan public health threat that claims close to a million lives each year, CPPR said.

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