- The Council for Harm Reduced Alternatives (CHRA) and the Association of Vapers India (AVI) has warned Central and various state governments of the effects of banning e-cigarette.
- Recently the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare took an in-principle decision to ban the manufacture, distribution and sale of all Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).
- Many states including Karnataka, Kerala, Mizoram, Maharashtra, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have banned their manufacture, distribution and sale.
- Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh have declared e-cigarettes as ‘unapproved drug’ under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1945.
- Delhi and Tamil Nadu are also considering banning e-cigarettes.
What is an e-cigarette?
- E-cigarette is a battery-powered device which vaporizes a liquid solution containing water, flavorings, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerol.
- E-cigarette are also called electronics nicotine delivery system (ENDS)
- They are considered as a healthier smoking alternative as they do not contain carbon monoxide or tar.
Arguments in favour of the ban
- According to the ministry, e-cigarettes contain nicotine, an addictive ingredient which has serious health-related ramifications.
- Nicotine addiction through e-cigarettes may lead to its consumer to try conventional tobacco products and hence is a gateway product.
- Further the government says e-liquids in e-cigarette contain nicotine in, propylene glycol and various flavours that are carcinogens.
- According to a study published in Indian Journal of Medical Paediatric Oncology, 2015 following are the ill-effects of nicotine addiction:
- Increased risk of cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal disorders
- Decreased immune response
- Negatively impacts reproductive health
- Affects the cell proliferation
- Oxidative stress
- DNA mutation leading to cancer
- Proliferation of tumours and metastasis
- Causes resistance to chemo and radiotherapeutic agents
WHO on e-cigarettes
- WHO has urged the governments to regulate all Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) products.
- According to WHO, there is no definitive proof that e-cigarettes help cut down smoking.
- Nicotine exposure could harm brain development in both children and fetuses.
Arguments against the ban
- According to The Council for Harm Reduced Alternatives (CHRA) ban on e-cigarette would deprive smokers of safer choices.
- According to CHRA and AVI, e-cigarettes help people kick the habit and are thus harm-reducing in communicable diseases.
- Further e-cigarettes are better alternative given the low success rate of gums and patches.
- Some experts have argued the effects of nicotine addiction could be as benign as caffeine.
- Some have highlighted potential benefits of nicotine in treating ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease and Schizophrenia.
- They argue that people smoke for the nicotine but die from the tar.
- Use of e-cigarettes in the U.S., E.U. and the U.K. has yielded positive results.
Laws regulating ENDS in India
- The states have banned e-cigarette under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and the Poisons Act, 1919.
- Under Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) the Union government can regulate tobacco products.
- According to the act it can prohibit any item which imitates cigarettes
- Thus Union government could affect a ban on e-cigarettes under the COTPA though doesn’t have a specific provision to ban.