All You Need To Know About The Ban on E-Cigarettes In India Lok Sabha passed The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Bill, 2019 on Wednesday. Once Rajya Sabha passes the bill, it will become a law.
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As per the bill, it is a crime to produce, manufacture, import, export, transport, sell, distribute, store or advertise e-cigarettes. While some are supporting the bill, there are those against a complete ban and would prefer regulations instead. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan called the ban a "pre-emptive strike" on the "hazardous" addiction.
According to Dr. S.C. Manchanda, a cardiologist and senior consultant at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, the ban is justified.
Manchanda says e-cigarettes can cause severe lung problems, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. "E-cigarettes are no more used by smokers who want to give up smoking. The addiction has been picked up by non-addict teenagers and school kids. E-cigarettes are becoming a fad in such age groups."
"Unlike the tried and tested nicotine and non-nicotine pharmacotherapies that are known to help people quit tobacco use, the WHO does not endorse e-cigarettes as cessation aids," states a government of India release published in September.
"Widespread use and unchecked proliferation of e-cigarettes and the like devices would seriously undermine and derail Government's efforts to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use," it reads.
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Those That Are Against
The government is not taking a holistic view of the situation by banning e-cigarettes, according to Samrat Chowdhery, director at Association of Vapers India.
"We are not living in an ideal world where we can take a moralistic position. E-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes. 98 countries have approved their use, and all of them are developed countries, except (for) Australia," says Chowdhery.
Quoting WHO, he says the harm from smoking comes from combustion. "When you burn something, it produces some sort of a residue, which, in this case is tar. Tar contains high levels of carcinogenic elements."
The Way Ahead
Bans have never worked, says Chowdhery and instead, regulations must be put in place. "Government has taken the easy route by altogether banning e-cigarettes. Marijuana has been banned in India for such a long time but three Indian cities - Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore are in the list of top 10 cities with the highest consumption of marijuana in the world."
According to him, the ban will only create a black market with no standards, product monitoring and quality checks.
Manchanda disagrees. Despite all the smuggling the levels of e-cigarettes, he says the consumption and acceptability of them in the society will decrease.