New Delhi: In a reaction to the advisory issued by the Union Ministry of Health to the state governments seeking ban on sales of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, a body supporting e-cigarettes as an option to real smoking, The Alternatives, has called the decision as based on poor advice, lack of scientific evidence and complete absence of basis.
In a statement issued on 29th August, it said that the ENDS products are being examined across the world for their benefits in harm reduction and as a pathway to smoking cessation. “The Advisory must be withdrawn immediately and an expert body of scientists be tasked with collaborating with global researchers and scientists to validate that has emerged and which is being examined by WHO.
Over the past two years, the evidence has mounted to show that both e-cigarettes and vaping devices are cutting down risk by over 95 per cent,” it said.
The statement further quotes the UK House of Commons Science and Technology committee’s remarks: “E-cigarettes, estimated as 95% less harmful than conventional cigarettes, are too often being overlooked as a stop smoking tool by the NHS. Regulations should be relaxed relating to e-cigarettes’ licensing, prescribing and advertising of their health benefits. Their level of taxation and use in public places must be reconsidered.”
Mr Deepak Mukarji, a prime advocate of harm reduction to people and the planet under the banner ‘The Alternatives’ says, “The Alternatives is disappointed with the central government directives to ban e-cigarettes. This retrograde step denies harm reduction and potentially lifesaving alternatives to smokers by ignoring science and its emerging technologies. The UK 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 the product development, manufacture, and distribution of licensed smoke-cessation and harm reduction vaping products”.
The Association of Vapers India (AVI) also asked the government that why it is not banning tobacco cigarettes if it is so concerned about nicotine. The body also rubbished government contention that vaping will increase smoking rates among teens, citing evidence to the contrary from a survey of 60,000 teens conducted by Public Health England. "This claim is bogus as smoking rates among youth are declining in all countries that have allowed vaping. In fact, after vaping was introduced, overall smoking rates have declined at a historical rate, which clearly points to the tremendous harm reduction potential of vaping," the AVI director Samrat Chowdhery was quoted saying in the media reports.