Facilitate smoking cessation through policies not bans
The government has been taking several steps towards discouraging tobacco consumption and reducing the risk of cancer. The state of Rajasthan is also conducting a study to understand the impact of nicotine as harm reduction tool. However, these steps would be futile if the government doesn't work towards smoking cessation by providing regulated nicotine alternatives, nicotine is not the enemy. The Central Government has disclosed its intention to ban e-cigarettes instead of working towards regulating it. The question that arises here is, wouldn't it be odd to ban e-cigarettes when there is no such ban on tobacco cigarettes? E-cigarettes are popular in many developed countries as regulators there see it as a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes, which are the leading cause of preventable deaths across the world.
As per a survey conducted by Kantar - an insight, information and consultancy group - across 14 countries revealed that 48% of Indian smokers have a cigarette just after waking up. Surprisingly, the same survey revealed that only 60% of Indians accepted their addiction to smoking - the least among the other countries who participated. This survey is part of a broader research effort of 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. "Considering the current landscape of smoking habits across and health conditions in India the government needs to focus on harm reduction and broaden its horizon to drive change through healthier alternatives,” said Nilesh Jain, Founder, ivape.in.
There is scientific evidence that indicates that vaping is safer than regular cigarettes, and yet cigarettes. A ban will add greater risk to public health in the country. Smokers in India are the least informed across the globe on the harm & risks to their health due to smoking. "Smokers know that tobacco is harmful and addictive and even consider themselves in poorer health than non-smokers – yet they’re not as actively engaged with their doctors as non-smokers, said Dr. VikasPunamiya, MD, MRCP(UK), Consultant Pulmonologist & Medical Director at ARISE Medical Research Center.
A blanket ban on ENDS will lead to an increase in unregulated trade of e-liquids and devices and black markets. Instead of smashing a product that can successfully help smokers quit their deadly habit the government must open up towards discussions on harm reduction. If we look at a bigger picture globally reputed organizations Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians estimate that vapor products are at least 95 percent less harmful. Recently at an event in the USA, Nilesh Jain spoke about harm reduction and smoking cessation. He said “The benefits of vaping in helping curb tobacco addiction must be considered. There needs to be an active discussion on reduced risk products.”