About three per cent of adults in India are aware about e-cigarettes and an estimated 0.02 per cent of the population use it, the government informed Lok Sabha Friday.
In written reply to a question, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey said, "As per the second round of Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS-2) 2016-17, about 3 pc of adults (aged 15 years and above) in India are aware about e-cigarettes and there are 0.02 pc estimated e-cigarette users."
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), also known as e-cigarettes, heat a solution to create an aerosol which frequently contains flavourants, usually dissolved into propylene glycol or/and glycerin.
Referring to the report, the minister said that ENDS aerosol contains nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco products. In addition to dependence, nicotine can have adverse effects on the development of the foetus during pregnancy and may contribute to cardiovascular disease.
The WHO report further says that although nicotine itself is not a carcinogen, it may function as a "tumour promoter" and seems to be involved in the biology of malignant disease, as well as of neuro-degeneration.
Foetal and adolescent nicotine exposure may have long-term consequences for brain development, potentially leading to learning and anxiety disorders. The evidence is sufficient to warn children and adolescents, pregnant women, and women of reproductive age against ENDS use and nicotine, Choubey said in his reply.
In response to a question on whether AIIMS has issued any warning regarding harmful effects of e-cigarettes, he said the premier medical institute has not issued any formal warning regarding harmful effects of e-cigarettes.
"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, Health ministry, has issued an advisory to all states and UTs to ensure that such devices including e-cigarettes, Heat-Not-Burn devices, Vape and the like devices that enable nicotine delivery are not sold (including online sale), manufactured, distributed, traded, imported and advertised in their jurisdictions, except for the purpose and in the manner and to the extent, as may be approved under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940," he said.
His reply comes amid a raging debate over the harm-reduction aspects of ENDS with some organisations claiming that these devices help in smoking cessation and are less harmful alternatives to traditional cigarettes, while the government is seeking to ban them contending they pose health risks to users, similar to those of conventional cigarettes.
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