India Grapples With Ecigs

Posted 24th October 2016 by Dave Cross
Indian vapers say they want access to electronic cigarettes, experts state that vaping works as a way to quit smoking but lawmakers remain opposed to harm reduction. The country houses 12% of the world’s smokers and loses the equivalent populations of Leicester, Nottingham, Coventry and Canterbury to smoking-related deaths each year.

"We see it as a backdoor entry, it doesn't have tobacco but it has nicotine," a senior Health Ministry official said in 2014. “Expert panels have recommended regulation or a ban. India cannot regulate easily."

Action against vaping was being driven by politicians with vested interests and justified with nonsense comments like vaping has “adverse affects on health”. This year, we reported how the Punjab is taking stronger action against vaping than it does to combat the toxic illegal drug epidemic or out of control rampant crime.

Currently, four Indian states have banned electronic cigarettes – covering 25% of the population. “E-cigarettes are not a form of nicotine replacement therapy and are not recommended by the WHO,” said the head of the Resource Centre for Tobacco Control in Chennai. The comment coming after officials declared vaping products were being used for illegal drug consumption. The source of their claims? A discredited American study in the Pediatrics journal.

It is striking that Indian legislators will seek out negative studies and comments from abroad but ignore the reports from Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians. It emphasises the unscrupulous and dishonest approach to law making.

Despite the best efforts of the corrupt and unprincipled to spin deceitful stories about vaping, vaping’s message of harm reduction is still getting through to potential users. Almost 66% of smokers in India see vaping as a positive alternative to smoking and 69% would consider making the switch, according to a recent study. The problem for those wanting to become vapers is that they’d only consider it if it were legal – and that is something the politicians are desperate to prevent.

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Another recent study conducted by Indian academics, “Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDs) as a Substitute to Conventional Cigarette: An Evidence-based Audit”, highlights the efficacy of vaping – and adds that it is a significantly safer option.

The lead author said: “Using a multi-criteria risk analysis approach with conservative criteria weighting, we find that ENDS are an effective option to quit conventional cigarette smoking. Regulators and public health agencies should take note of these positive attributes of ENDS and explore policies that would enable access to these products.”

Speaking directly to the nation’s public health officials, Doctor Farsalinos commented: “Just as medicines offer a harm reduction technique for diseases or helmets provide bikers harm reduction in case of accidents, e-cigarettes adds a harm reduction option for smokers.”


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