The Union Health Ministry has issued an advisory asking all states and Union territories to not allow the manufacture, sale, and advertisement of e-cigarettes and other ENDS, warning that their use poses a “great health risk” to the public, especially children, and pregnant women.
ENDS are devices that heat a solution to create an aerosol, which also frequently contains flavours, usually dissolved into propylene glycol and glycerin.
Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, the most common prototype, are devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves but instead vaporise a solution, which a user then inhales.
The main constituents of the solution, in addition to nicotine, are propylene glycol (with or without glycerol and flavouring agents).
AVI director Samrat Chowdhery told, “We are certainly going to challenge this in court. We are currently deliberating on the issue.”
Farrukh Khan, a legal advisor associated with this campaign, expressed fear that the advisory could lead to witch-hunt as it is ambiguous. Khan also asserted that they will challenge the advisory in court.
According to AVI, e-cigarettes to contain nicotine like tobacco cigarettes, but they do not produce tar and toxic chemicals behind most of the tobacco-related deaths across the world.
According to some globally renowned studies, e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful compared to combustible cigarettes and they also help in quitting smoking.
It also referred to figures from WHO saying India has some 10.6 crore smokers, the highest after China and on an average, smoking kills nine lakh people in India every year.
Chowdhery questioned the rationale behind Centre’s advisory to ban e-cigarettes.
“How is India going to fight the menace of tobacco if smokers are denied safer alternatives? The central government is protecting the tobacco industry and pushing smokers towards death,” he said.
In its advisory, the Health Ministry has said as per the World Health Organisation report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2017, the governments of 30 countries such as Mauritius, Australia, Singapore, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have already banned ENDS.
“It is evident that the Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, including e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn devices, vape, e-sheesha, e-nicotine flavoured hookah, and the like devices or products available by whatsoever name, that enable nicotine delivery or its use, are a great health risk to public at large, especially to children, adolescents, pregnant women and women of reproductive age,” the advisory says.