India considers total vaping ban

Posted 12th November 2014 by Dave Cross
India, home to the world’s most heavily populated democracy in the world – 1.2billion people, 120million smokers, 12% of the world’s smokers and around 1,000,000 annual smoking-related deaths each year.

The death toll is the approximate equivalent of Leicester, Nottingham, Coventry and Canterbury being wiped off the UK map every year. With Carlisle being thrown in for good measure.

The country is firmly in the sights of Big Tobacco, feeling the pinch from on-going market decline, they see this region as ripe for exploiting with their cigalike products. ITC announced their intention to rollout their Eon brand across India in phases. Designed in-house and mass-produced in China, they see tobacco-free products as the key to overcome a 41% drop in net sales.

Despite moves by the Indian government to curtail smoking, what ITC probably didn’t expect was the wholesale adoption of the WHO’s stance on electronic cigarettes. As reported by Reuters, “India is considering a total ban on electronic cigarettes over the risks to public health that they may cause,” said a senior Health Ministry official.

"We see it as a backdoor entry, it doesn't have tobacco but it has nicotine," he added. “Expert panels have recommended regulation or a ban. India cannot regulate easily."

India can’t regulate easily due to the level of corruption that exists within government and the police and, by logical extension, it’s reasonable to assume that money may have played a more important role in the potential ban than science.

ITC did not comment directly on the likely ban, but said, “It is important that Indian industry innovates and creates intellectual property for products such as Electronic Vaping Devices (EVDs), which will otherwise be imported involving royalty payments and outflows from the country.”

The Tobacco Institute of India has commented that they foresee any law banning vaping as not enforceable and would only result in retailers being harassed (presumably by officials looking for bribes).

The “expert panel” consists of anonymous members who have gone to lengths to remain unnamed. The panel comprises oncologists, health department officials, members of public health groups and representatives of the drug regulator's office. The experts claim that the ban is essential due to the factthat it could lead to addiction, particularly among the youth.”

The youth will be delighted that they are being saved from the evils of vaping.

An influencing factor will be the reports in India that the World Health Organisation said ‘e-cigarettes pollute the air with chemicals, are a risk to bystanders and should not be used indoors’.

In June, a group of 122 experts from across the globe had written to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan saying that manufacturers of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are misleading the public by projecting their products as an aid to quit smoking, for which there is no concrete evidence. Hopefully the news from Belgium and Boston confirming the success of ecigs as a quitting aid will be seen as the concrete evidence the likes of Glantz claim is lacking.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker