In a time where smoking tobacco is taboo the majority of the world over, let’s take a look at India’s relationship with e-cigarettes and the potential help these devices might be able to give the millions of smokers that live in the country.
As the third largest tobacco producer and the second largest tobacco consumer globally, India have somewhat of an ingrained attachment to smoking cigarettes. A natural scene on any a street setting in New Delhi will be one of the tobacco stalls and sellers proffering an array of individual cigarettes to meet the daily needs of those deep in an addiction to nicotine, tobacco-related deaths and diseases an almost inevitability among the masses that populate sub-continent India.
States Advised to ban E-cigarettes
Whilst the country remains seemingly committed to traditional tobacco products, the ever-expanding e-cigarette industry come under scrutiny in recent months. In a move proposed to protect health risks to children, adolescents and women of reproductive age, in August 2018 the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India requested for its individual States and Union Territories to ban all electronic nicotine delivery devices including e-cigarettes, vaporizers, e-Sheeshas, e-Hookahs, and other heat not burn devices. The request by the Ministry is thought to have been a result of increasing pressures from Delhi High Court to regulate the ‘new emerging threat’ that e-cigarettes posed to the country’s population.
Prior to the Ministry’s request in August, the law on e-cigarettes had been somewhat of a legal grey area, with the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, Mizoram, and Maharashtra already imposing statewide bans of the use and sale of e-cigarettes devices.
E-cigarette Experts and Public Condemn Decision to Ban E-cigarettes
Unsurprisingly, such news was met with condemnation from e-cigarette users and experts alike. Samrat Chowdhery, Director of the Association of Vapers India (AVI), a group who represent the ever-expanding community of vapers in the country released a statement saying, “The government has so far relied on an emotional appeal to persuade tobacco users to kick the habit, but never offered an alternative beyond gums and patches, which have a very low success rate… an attempt to ban e-cigarettes is regressive given that the government’s stated policy is to provide wider choices to consumers for all products and services, and not restrict them.” In an unexpected, yet significant development, Delhi High Court recently ruled that the Ministry’s advisory for States and Union Territories to ban e-cigarettes is not binding to the State governments. The news this November followed a petition filed by e-cigarette user Piush Ahluwalia who successfully argued that the August’s advisory to ban e-cigarettes was in breach of his fundamental human rights – people power!
E-cigarettes up to 95% Less Harmful than Smoking tobacco
Here in the UK, e-cigarettes have proven popular among cigarettes smokers looking to become smoke-free with an estimated 3.2 million e-cigarettes users now known to exist in the UK. E-cigarettes were declared by Public Health England to be up to 95% less harmful than tobacco products and that such devices have potential to help smokers become smoke-free. So much so that for the first time in the Stoptober event in 2018, the NHS recommended e-cigarettes to help signees to the campaign stay smoke-free for 28 days.
In addition to the UK, over 50 countries including the U.S.A, New Zealand, and countries throughout the E.U adopt a positive approach to e-cigarettes as a tool seen to have the potential to combat the task of having a smoke-free future for societies.