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Union Health Ministry tells youth to ‘stay away and safe’ from e-cigarettes

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Despite ban, authorities are alarmed by the sharp rise in e-cigarette use among American teens

Alarmed by the annual jump in e-cigarette use among high school children (77.8% rise) and middle school children (48.5% rise) according to the U.S.’s 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) data, India’s Union Health Ministry has asked youth here to “stay away and safe”.

The Ministry says data from American teens shows that, among middle and high school students, tobacco abuse increased alarmingly between 2017 and 2018, with over 3.6 million kids using e-cigarettes in 2018.

‘Most effective ban’

While Parliament has passed the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Bill, 2019, a senior Health Ministry official noted that creating awareness and education among the youth against the use of e-cigarettes is the “most effective ban”.

“What government and experts are worried about is the highly additive nature of nicotine. There is also the risk of use of other psychoactive substances through these devices, and initiation of nicotine or psychoactive substances by non-smokers, especially adolescents and youth. Besides, there is scant scientific evidence for the use of e-cigarettes as effective tobacco cessation aids,” a Health Ministry official said.

In comparison

However, those arguing in favour of e-cigarettes note that since e-cigarettes use vapour technology, they expose users to fewer carcinogens that traditional cigarettes. They also note that in multiple studies and surveys, e-cigarettes have been shown to potentially help smokers reduce their habit or to quit altogether.

Meanwhile, in accordance with the provisions of the Bill that has been passed recently, the production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement of e-cigarettes and similar devices is a cognisable offence, and persons found in violation of the law for the first time will face a jail term of up to one year or a fine of up to ₹1 lakh rupees, or both. Subsequent offences carry a jail term of up to three years and a fine of up to ₹5 lakh. It further punishes storage of e-cigarettes, with imprisonment up to six months or a fine of up to ₹50,000, or both.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 1:23:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/union-health-ministry-tells-youth-to-stay-away-and-safe-from-e-cigarettes/article30517941.ece

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