If you are trying to quit smoking and have decided to use an e-cigarette to help you along the tough road, think again. According to reports the government is considering a ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes.
According to an expert panel on e-cigarettes constituted by the Health Ministry, the fumes of cigarette and the cigarette’s safety has not yet been tested, making it a potential health hazards. One of the major concerns the experts had that the e-cigarette had the potential to become an addiction particularly amongst they youth.
An expert panel on e-cigarettes constituted by the health ministry has recommended a blanket ban on the product, saying its safety has not been established. Three members of the panel, who did not want to be identified, told ET that it could lead to addiction, particularly among the youth.
The panel comprised of oncologists, health department officials, members of public health groups and representatives of the drug regulator’s office.
Why could e-cigarettes be a health hazard in India?
One of the biggest hurdles policy makers face is the fact that India does not have any standard laws that deal directly with the sale of e-cigarettes – which fall outside the purview of the Cigarettes Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003, which regulates the sale, ads and use of tobacco products.
What makes it different is the fact that when an e-cigarette is lit it release vapour and not smoke (a by product of cigarettes). In a statement health ministry officials said, ‘We are aware of the matter and are deliberating the recommendations of the expert panel, but the discussion is in too preliminary a stage for us to indicate a definite course of action.’
Why is it popular?
Manufacturers have positioned e-cigarettes as a method to quit smoking. Also, the cigarette does not have carcinogens and therefore is not as unhealthy as a cigarette.
States that have banned cigarettes
So far e-cigarettes are banned in Punjab and Maharashtra is still considering banning them as well.
While India is still to formulate a policy for the sale and use of the e-cigarette, the European Union has agreed to regulate their use while the US has proposed banning sales to persons under 18. In a statement Monika Arora, director, Public Health Foundation of India, said, ‘India should ban e-cigarettes before the problem assumes the shape and size that it has in countries such as the US and UK,’
According to Binoy Mathew of the Voluntary Health Association of India said e-cigarettes should be recognised as a drug because they are being sold as a cure for smoking and contain nicotine, or face checks similar to cigarettes.
According to a report the World Health Organisation said e-cigarettes pollute the air with chemicals, are a risk to bystanders and should not be used indoors. It also advocated a ban on advertising and sales to minors, among other suggestions .
While the health activists look at e-cigarettes as a bane, the tobacco industry sees it as a sign of technological advancement. A spokesperson for ITC said, ‘It is important that Indian industry innovates and creates intellectual property for products such as Electronic Vaping Devices (EVDs), which will otherwise be imported involving royalty payments and outflows from the country.
India should not be left behind in technology development for EVDs.’
What are e-cigarettes?
An electronic cigarette is a device that mimics the entire smoking process by producing a mist which has the same sensation (sometimes the same flavour too) of smoking. The concept of an electronic cigarette has been around since the 60s but tobacco consumption wasn’t really considered hazardous back then and it took until 2003 for the first smokeless e-cigarette to hit the market.
Electronic cigarettes manufacturers claim that they are like real cigarettes except that there are no hazardous health implications because there is no combustion, no tobacco and no smoking. Also since there is no passive smoking, second hand smoke and pollution due to butt litter or smoke.
What’s in an e-cig?
The e-cigarette basically consists of three parts: Cartridge, Atomizer and Power supply
The cartridge’s a mouthpiece (like a cigarette’s butt) that usually holds the liquid that is to be vaporized. The atomizer serves as a heating element and vaporizes the liquid and each of them contains a power supply like a chargeable plug, USB drive or batteries.
An e-cigarette produces nicotine infused vapour and though it looks like smoke is actually atomised air. Some e-cigs replace this nicotine vapour with other flavours like vanilla, chocolate, etc. though certain anti-smoking groups feel this could encourage minors to smoke. As a smoking cessation tool some manufactures even look to replicate the flavour of particular brands like Marlboro, Camel, etc. (Read: Electronic Cigarettes – what are they?)
Image source: Getty Images
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- World No Tobacco Day 2014: How to identify and beat your smoking triggers
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