July 23, 2019
A recent survey has found one of every three persons in the age group of 15-50 years in Delhi-NCR is addicted to smoking and, more alarmingly, a majority of those aged between 20 and 30 are smokers. Advocates for reducing harm to tobacco users say in this dire situation the Delhi government should look to expand options to wean smokers away from the deadly habit and a ban on less harmful alternatives like e-cigarettes will deepen the tobacco health crisis.
The Delhi High Court had on Friday directed the AAP government to urgently examine the issue of regulating sale and consumption of e-cigarettes. The Delhi government in an affidavit filed before the court last year had indicated it is considering banning the sale of e-cigarettes.
“COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and other smoking-related diseases are galloping forward in the race to be the top killers of mankind. One wrong choice and there is no looking back, but this can be stopped,” said Dr. Bharat Gopal, Senior Pulmonologist and Director, National Chest Centre, Naraina, New Delhi. “Lot of my patients want to quit but fail with the standard tools of smoking cessation. Do I have something to at least reduce their harm?”
“E-cigarettes and other types of harm-reducing alternatives have been available since 2003 and have helped millions quit the habit of smoking. These products meet the needs of some ex-smokers by substituting physical, psychological, social, cultural and identity-related aspects of tobacco addiction. Much scientific evidence is available for them, but surprisingly our Indian patients are kept away from these due to the prevailing laws,” said Dr. Gopal.
"The important aspect is to bust the myth that these are the same as cigarettes – it is the elimination of combustion which is important. It is imperative that all stakeholders sit together and formulate policies as a way forward to benefit our patients in reducing risk and leading a healthier life," Dr. Gopal said.
Farrukh Khan, a Senior Lawyer of Delhi High Court, said, “Before framing any policy on e-cigarettes or coming to any conclusion, the government should meet all the stakeholders – consumers, doctors, harm reduction advocates etc. Outright banning safer alternatives will deprive citizens of their fundamental right to live with dignity as mentioned in Article 21 of the Constitution. The regulation should ensure these products are out of reach of minors.”
“A ban also militates against Article 14 (which stipulates equality before law) as it exempts tobacco cigarettes, which are more injurious to public health and the cause of the majority of tobacco-related deaths across the world. The ban will help the tobacco industry, not public health,” he added.
Samrat Chowdhery, Director of Association of Vapers India
Samrat Chowdhery, Director of Association of Vapers India, a consumer body that advocates for safer tobacco alternatives, said, “There is ample scientific evidence that e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than smoking, with negligible second-hand risk. Over 65 nations including the US, all 28 EU countries, Canada, UAE and New Zealand have regulated their use, with the UK raising awareness about them through its public health network. We hope the Delhi government takes an evidence-led view which respects consumer choice and the right of citizens to reduce health risk.”
"Denying people access to these alternatives will worsen the smoking crisis by ensuring smokers have fewer effective options to wean away from the deadly habit which kills 8 million people globally and over a million in India every year," Chowdhery said.
About Association of Vapers India (AVI)
Association of Vapers India is a non-profit advocacy group that champions the use of vapor products and electronic cigarettes to help smokers quit. It provides information to smokers regarding quitting smoking and gives them resources and tools to begin and complete their quit journey. AVI currently have access to 1,00,000 vapers, and hopes to bring people from different walks of life together in the fight against tobacco. AVI along with the help of experts and researchers has also initiated dialogue with the Indian government to find a balanced way to regulate the e-cigarette market and products to ensure it is available to smokers looking to quit.
Please visit www.vapeindia.org for all the latest researches and supportive documents.Source: Newsvior