HFI was set up in the mid-1980s to increase awareness of all aspects of health, for everybody no matter their status or income. Such is its work valued that the government has commemorated it on not one but two postage stamps.
The organisation aims to improve cost effectiveness in treatment, carries out training on cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and provides money to heart patients unable to afford proper care.
As we reported recently, a succession of Indian states are blindly following the government’s instructions to ban vaping. Some, like Tamil Nadu, have gone further and made it a criminal act to carry vape equipment or be caught vaping.
Last month, letters were sent to the health minister of Goa, demanding: “Before it’s too late, we request our state government to completely ban e-cigarettes in the larger interest of public health and save our citizens from this nicotine menace.”
Of course, cigarettes are the real menace but remain on sale because the government has a 30% holding in the Indian tobacco giant.
Scientists have fallen over themselves to retract previous statements in support of vaping and doctors have changed their position from support to opposing harm reduction due to pressure brought to bear by those in charge of funding and promotions.
What a delight it is to see HFI’s Dr KK Aggarwal (Hon. Secretary General of the Indian Medical Association) having the fortitude to stand tall against this wave of intellectual oppression. He writes in India Legal Live: “An estimated one billion lives will be lost prematurely by 2100, according to the Annual Review of Public Health. And this is where e-cigarettes come in.”
“According to the British Medical Journal: ‘People smoke for the nicotine, but they die from the tar.’ Therefore, we should ban tobacco, but if we can’t, we should at least reduce its harmful effects.”
Aggarwal continues by highlighting that Article 1(d) of the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control demands the adoption of harm reduction strategies – something the Indian government and the recent conference in Switzerland chose to ignore.
“It involves the use of non-combustible products such as vaping ones like e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products or smokeless tobacco,” Aggarwal says.
He cites facts from the latest update by Public Health England and talks about how the recent UK parliamentary inquiry into e-cigarettes stated: “e-cigarettes present an opportunity to significantly accelerate already declining smoking rates, and thereby tackle one of the largest causes of death in the UK today. They are substantially less harmful—by around 95 percent—than conventional cigarettes. They lack the tar and carbon monoxide of conventional cigarettes—the most dangerous components. It has also proven challenging to measure the risks from ‘second-hand’ e-cigarette vapour because it is negligible and substantially less than that of conventional cigarettes”.
Of course, nobody should initiate the use of nicotine unless they are already smoking – but Dr Aggarwal is clear that for those who already are smoking, the choice should be simple: “These individuals should be encouraged to switch to the least harmful form of tobacco product possible. Switching to the exclusive use of e-cigarettes is preferable to continuing to smoke combustible products.”