Banning vaporizers will cost lives and India if the government follows through with proposals to prevent e-cig devices from hitting the market.
Scientists are pleading with local authorities to conduct “India-centric research before deciding on any hasty move”.
The smoking rates in India are dangerously high, showing no sign of stagnation.
According to the World Health Organization, India is home to 12% of the world’s smoking population and face over one million annual tobacco-related deaths. Moreover, a staggering 30% of India’s male population smokes cigarettes.
Pleas From India’s Scientists
Last year two scientists wrote a heartfelt letter to the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J.P. Nadda urging him to reconsider policies that facilitate smoking cessation.
R.N. Sharan of the Department of Biochemistry, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), and M. Siddiqi, Chairman of Cancer Foundation of India aim to provide smokers with safe and regulated alternatives to tobacco.
“The Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS), more popularly known as e-cigarettes, offer a safer and effective way of meeting the physiological demands of nicotine to smokers to help quit or cut down smoking significantly,” they said, after pointing out that in countries like the UK, vape products are freely available and have led lead to a significant decline in smoking.
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Vaporizers Could Reverse India’s Smoking Epidemic
A study conducted in 2016 found that increasing vaporizer accessibility in India would decrease the number of smokers by 50%. This equates to saving around 90 million life-years.
Moreover, US non-profit organization Reason Foundation carried out a study that found the results of vape products becoming more accessible and competitive sale prices in India would lead to more smokers switching to vaping.
The researchers also calculated that the number of smokers could decrease by 50% or more within the next 20 years. “In 30 years, vaping might eliminate smoking altogether,” concluded the study.
Alas, all of the enlightening data that should be contributing to reversing the problem is getting the cold shoulder.
India has a disastrously serious tobacco problem and, considering India is the second largest cigarette smoking population in the world, it’s time some action is taken.
Time For Action In India
Earlier in 2017, the Union Health Ministry amassed a working group that would assess the effects of vape products on locals in an attempt to discover whether a vape ban is the best course of action.
This committee concluded that the products have cancer-causing properties and are highly addictive. This was the basis on which the Union government seeks to implement a ban.
How does allowing cigarette products to be sold make any sense using this logic?
Dr. Siddiqi and Prof. Sharan are again using their voices and professional opinions with hopes to knock some sense into the government. The pair of scientists have written yet another letter addressed to the Union Minister, pleading again with him to avert a public health disaster by regulating vaporizers rather than ban them.
“We believe that public health in India is at a greater risk under a prohibitive environment than by allowing smokers, who wish to cease tobacco use, an alternative option based on nicotine replacement via e-cigarettes.” said Prof. Sharan.
The scientists pointed out that vape devices have shown evidence leading to decreased smoking rates in countries that have endorsed vaporizers. In fact, the UK, who has fully endorsed vaping devices as part of smoking cessation programs, is reporting the lowest number of smokers ever recorded.
“At a time when there is growing support for e-cigarettes in many countries, it is regrettable that India appears to be moving in a negative direction. Given the scale of tobacco use in India there is huge potential for tobacco harm reduction.”
– Prof. R.N. Sharan, Department of Biochemistry, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU)
Should India be more open to regulation? Would a vape ban risk lives in India? Did the smoking rates in India shock you?
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