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Government's move on e-cigarettes a pre-emptive strike: Dr Harsh Vardhan


ANI General News
The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed a bill to prohibit production, import, sale or distribution of electronic cigarettes with Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan saying the Centre had brought the legislation to nip the evil in the bud and prevent youth being targeted by the companies.
The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage, and Advertisement) Bill, 2019 was passed with a voice vote after amendments moved by the opposition were negatived.
Rejecting opposition allegations about the government having resorted to the ordinance, the minister said the ordinance was "pre-emptive strike" to protect the health of children and youth and nothing could have been more important.
"Why should we wait for three months if we can nip the evil in the bud," he said.
He said e-cigarettes have an adverse impact on the cardio-vascular system, adolescent brains and cause cancer.
He said Nicotine is the most addictive substance known, more than heroin and, in pure form, can cause cancer.
The minister said nicotine sulphate was once used as a pesticide but has been withdrawn due to its toxicity.
The minister said 65 per cent of the country's population was below 35 per cent, which would have been targeted by e-cigarettes companies, one of which was planning to have the full operation in India in the coming months.
The minister said the use of e-cigarettes was being used by 0.2 per cent of the population and "since e-cigarettes have a small base (at present), a ban will be very effective".
Referring to reports that e-cigarettes were less harmful than normal cigarettes, he said "less harmful does not mean harmless".
The minister said that it can't be said that jumping from the 10th floor is less harmful than jumping from a higher floor of a building.
Noting that e-cigarettes posed risk to the youth, he said during a surprise inspection in a school in Delhi, 150 vaping devices were found in bags of school children.
"We can't assume a problem is not growing. A complete ban was absolutely necessary," he said.
Referring to a study, he said 96.6 per cent of children and youth in the age group of 15 to 24 were non-smokers. "It is this group of children that the government is seeking to protect through the ban," he said.
Citing data from the US, he said prevalence of e-cigarettes had grown fast and industry was trying to target the children through aggressive marketing strategies.
Referring to the economic cost of the tobacoo consumption, he said that 2011 data showed that for persons aged between 35 years and 69 years, this amounts to Rs 1,04,500 crore.
"This is the total economic cost that the country pays to deal with the tobacco menace. It was 1.16 per cent of our GDP. It was 12 per cent more than the combined State and Central government expenditure on health in 2011-12. You can well imagine what the tobacco menace has cost to us till now," said Dr Vardhan.

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First Published: Nov 27 2019 | 11:00 PM IST

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