Federal health ministry officials in India have initiated calls to ban the sale, importation, promotion and use of e-cigarettes in the nation, but not cigarettes.

The ban has been based on fears over public health risks, according to officials.

Last year, the Union Health Ministry of India assessed the effect of vaping on those who vape in the country.

Just last week, the health ministry said that e-cigarettes and Heat-not-Burn (HnB) devices must be banned outright, saying they are,

 “A great health risk to the public at large, especially to children, adolescents, pregnant women and women of reproductive age”.

The ban, which it is thought will counteract any aims to cut India’s smoking rate, has been welcomed by doctors and health professionals in the country.

Dr Satayanarayana Mysore is head of the department of  interventional pulmonology and sleep medicine at Manipal Hospitals and he told local press:

“Considering how harmful they are, they must be completely avoided.”

However vape advocacy group Association of Vapers India (AVI) points out the proven positives of vaping in smoking cessation identified and endorsed in countries like the UK, saying, 

“The advisory must be withdrawn immediately.”

The AVI also referred to the recent report published from the British Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee, which called on UK MPs to back vaping to cut the national adult smoking rate.

The advocacy group also condemned the federal Indian health ministry for painting an inaccurate picture of comments made by the World Health Organization in citing data saying that 30 countries have banned e-cigarettes, whilst failing to acknowledge the 65 nations which endorse vaping for smoking cessation.

In recent years, India has raised tax hikes on cigarettes and enforced stricter rules on cigarette packaging. According to the Indian government, smoking kills more than 900,000 people every year.

Sadly, banning e-cigarettes may increase that figure in the years to come.