The Indian government is considering an outright ban on e-cigarettes after the Union Health Ministry came to the contestable conclusion that vape products are addictive and harmful.
The study was commissioned after The Health Department of Maharashtra requested that the Food and Drug Administration enforce a ban.
Experts have been critical of the findings, which ignore the potential for harm reduction in a country that has 11.2% of the world’s smokers.
Professor R.N. Sharan of the Department of Biochemistry, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) and M. Siddiqi, Chairman of Cancer Foundation of India have written a letter to Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J.P. Nadda urging him to consider regulating electronic cigarettes instead of banning them outright.
“We believe that public health in India is at a greater risk under a prohibitive environment than by allowing smokers, who wish to cease tobacco use, an alternative option based on nicotine replacement via e-cigarettes.”
A number of states including Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Maharashtra already prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes and it is estimated that 30-50% of the e-cigarette market is online.
While all parties agree that some form of government control is needed to safeguard minors from exposure to nicotine, critics argue that it would hypocritical to ban safer alternatives to smoking while allowing tobacco sales to continue.