In the wake of an advisory issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare asking states to ban e-cigarettes, an organisation that represents e-cigarette users has questioned the motive behind the proposed move.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Association of Vapers India (AVI) asked why the government is not banning tobacco cigarettes if it is so concerned about nicotine -- an ingredient that can lead to addiction.
The advisory issued on Tuesday said: "States/Union Territories are advised in larger public health interest, and in order to prevent the initiation of ENDS by non-smokers and youth, with special attention to vulnerable groups, to ensure that any Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) including e-Cigarettes, Heat Not-Burn devices, Vape, e-Sheesha, e-Nicotine Flavoured Hookah... are not sold (including online sale)."
The government contented that vaping will increase smoking rates among teenagers. However, a survey of 60,000 adolescents conducted by Public Health England -- a government agency for preventing ill health -- has showed otherwise, the organisation said.
"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," said Samrat Chowdhery, Director at the AVI.
The organisation also contested the government's claim that e-vapour has a significant presence of metals.
"Extensive studies have been done on presence of metals in e-vapour and it has been consistently found that their presence is too minuscule to cause harm. The smoke released from tobacco cigarettes has much higher levels of metals compared to e-vapour," Chowdhery said.
All major scientific institutions from the Royal College of Physicians, American Cancer Society, National Academies for Sciences and Engineering, as well as the US Food and Drug Administration, have acknowledged that e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful than combustible cigarettes.
The same data also demonstrates that 65 nations, including the EU, the UK, the US, Canada and New Zealand, have allowed and regulated e-cigarettes, an information that the government has withheld, he noted.
Conversely, the countries that have banned, barring outlier Australia, are small nations and those with dubious records in public health, he argued.
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