The vaping fad v/s fact
- 8 states in India have banned ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems)
- The health ministry is considering a pan India ban
The nascent vaping community in India is already under the siege of a ban. In its latest, the state of Tamil Nadu will soon bring about a legislation for a total ban of electronic cigarettes. What does this ban mean - it means that it will be illegal to light up, sell, manufacture, import or distribute the battery-powered devices across the state. Eight out of 29 states in India have already banned ENDS and related products. However, a vaping body that represents more than 4000 vapers is not convinced and are of the opinion that a complete ban is unwarranted.
Scientific research states that vaping can prove to be an important tool in smoking cessation. “There are numerous studies, research and analysis that suggest that vaping, in comparison to tobacco cigarettes and other tobacco products, are less harmful and contain far lesser toxins and thereby cause a reduced level of harm, said Samrat Chowdhery, spokesperson, AVI, the question that AVI is raising is “Why aren’t cigarettes banned instead?”
According to business intelligence company Euromonitor, the global market for vaping products has grown exponentially at 818% between 2011 and 2016. Though the regulations are slowing its growth, and yet, it is projected to grow at 176% between 2016 and 2021. Vaping is being considered as a healthier alternative and people are using it to wean off their addiction. From the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to the American Cancer Society (ACS) to the British Medical Association (BMA), all have upholded the safety and use of e-cigarette as an alternative to the hazardous tobacco cigarettes. The FDA continues to regulate e-cigarettes rather ban it. The US health regulator has found e-cigarette comparatively less harmful because unlike traditional cigarettes as they don’t release tar and other toxic chemicals, which are the real cause of tobacco-related deaths.
The real killer is not nicotine but tobacco, a survey conducted by Kantar - an insight, information and consultancy group - across 13 countries revealed that in India 48% of the smokers light up a cigarette just after waking up. The survey included participants from the smokers, ex-smokers and non smokers community. It also revealed that only 60% of Indians accepted their addiction to smoking - the least among the other countries who participated. Moreover, the survey states that being addicted to smoking not only has perceived effects on health but also has an impact on the psychological well being of the smoker, especially in relation to the financial burden of smoking. This survey was a part of a broader research effort conducted by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, to regularly evaluate, monitor and publish reports on progress towards reducing deaths and harm from smoking and eliminating smoking worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), from 2016 to 2017, an estimated 267 million Indians, which is about 28 percent of the total population consumed tobacco.
“With India being at brink of an endemic caused by tobacco, the need of the hour is to look at healthier alternatives. Vaping a smoking cessation tool is tobacco-free and contains no carcinogens. The technology of vaping was created to reduce the harm caused by the tobacco clad cigarettes and help people quit is being currently neglected by the health ministry,” said Nilesh Jain founder, ivape.in.
The basic mechanism of vaping is simple – a heating element which is the coil powered by batteries vaporises a mixture of vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, flavour concentrates which may or may not have nicotine based on the type of e-liquid one buys. Experts argue that vaping is considered to be a safer way of consuming nicotine as compared to cigarettes, as there is no burning of chemicals and tar involved. Regular cigarettes produce hundreds of carcinogens by the process of combustion.
With the advancement of technology the vaping devices or mods come in different sizes and shapes to suit one's need along with features that allow the user to control every aspect of his/her vaping experience. Based on the type of addiction one has, one can choose a mod and also have a wide variety of e-liquids to choose from. Vaping initially started as a health fad and is now globally leading the anti-smoking advocacy movement. Owing to the threat of a blanket ban vaping is being looked at as an obstacle in the entire Indian smoking cessation movement. “If the government is concerned about underage smoking and vaping what we need is a regulation and not a ban. A ban will drive all products to the grey market, which will surely be a cause of health hazards,” added Nilesh Jain.
To appeal to the health ministry ivape.in launched an online petition campaign on change.org. The advocates of vaping, vaping associations, communities and vaping brands have supported and extended their full support in appealing to the government to regulate vaping in India and not ban it. The campaign since its inception in June has received more than 413 sign ups in the first month itself. Vapers are hoping that the government listens to their voice and takes a conclusive and constructive decision about the future of vaping in India.