During the hearing, the court said that there are a number of new addictive trends that India’s youth are indulging in amongst which vaping, and that tackling this is their priority. It was also stated that despite banning the use of nicotine in hookah bars, nicotine was still being consumed in various other forms.
Local scientists have been urging Indian authorities to conduct “India centric research, before deciding on any hasty move”.
Sadly, the High Court pointed out that in a round table conference that took place back in 2012, the Union ministry of health and family welfare had said that vaping is a deadly addiction and that therefore e-cigarettes should be banned immediately.
This is tragic example of how despite all the scientific research available, misinformation about e-cigarettes is still circulating and informing policy. In fact, back in January, the Eastern Indian state of Bihar also implemented an e-cigarette ban which includes the sales, manufacturing, distribution, purchase, display, and online sales of the products.
Vaping Bans vs Harm Reduction
Dr. Siddiqi and Prof. Sharan told the Union Minister to avert a public health disaster by regulating e-cigs, rather than banning them.
In the meantime, while India seems to headed in the direction of banning the products across the country, local scientists have been urging Indian authorities to conduct “India centric research, before deciding on any hasty move”.
In 2016 two scientists, R.N. Sharan of the Department of Biochemistry, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), and M. Siddiqi, Chairman of Cancer Foundation of India wrote a letter to the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J.P. Nadda, urging him to consider policies that would facilitate smoking cessation, by providing smokers with safe and regulated tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes.
A “prohibitive environment” puts public health at a greater risk
Then, last September, Dr. Siddiqi and Prof. Sharan wrote yet another letter addressed to the Union Minister, urging him to avert a public health disaster by regulating electronic cigarettes rather than banning them. “We believe that public health in India is at a greater risk under a prohibitive environment than by allowing smokers, who wish to cease tobacco use, an alternative option based on nicotine replacement via e-cigarettes.” said Prof. Sharan.
In line with what several studies have been indicating, the scientists pointed out that the devices have been shown to lead to decreased smoking rates in the countries where they have been endorsed. Infact, thanks to the advent of vaping, the UK who has fully endorsed the devices as part of smoking cessation programs, is reporting the lowest number of smokers ever recorded.
Read Further: The Times Of India