Twenty reasons why Government of India did the right thing by banning E Cigarette.

E cigarettes contain Nicotine that is highly toxic chemical that can adversely affect any organ of the body. Some states in India have included it in the schedule of poisonous substance. A dosage of 30-50 mg of nicotine can kill an adult human. Nicotine in pure form may also cause cancer.

Nicotine sulphate was once approved to be used as pesticides by agriculture department. Recently, that approval was withdrawn considering its toxicity. Therefore, it is a chemical that is not fit to be used even as a pesticide!

Nicotine is the most addictive substance currently known in the world that is even more addictive than heroin.

To counter withdrawal symptoms of smoking, nicotine (2mg) has been approved to be used under medical supervision for a short period of time. There are very few reports of long term addiction to nicotine tables or gums. Over- the – counter sale of E cigarette will promote easy and unregulated access to very high dosage of nicotine for recreational use rather than medicinal use.

Nearly 80 percent of those who start E cigarette to quit cigarettes can’t quit the E cigarette. It deprives a quitter of nicotine free life despite quitting cigarettes successfully. It is like moving to fire from frying pan.

Contrary to claims of E Cigarette lobby, E cigarette has not been approved as a cessation drug or tool. There is no conclusive study to support the claims of E cigarette lobby regarding its medical benefits.

Such is the power of misinformation campaign by E cigarette lobby that many noted doctors started believing in the concept of “harm reduction”. It is equivalent to saying that jumping from 10th floor is safer than jumping from 13th floor. Less Harm does not mean harmless.

E cigarette helps a small fraction of smokers to quit. More than three fourths use it along with cigarette in their futile attempt to quit. This exposes them to double dosage of nicotine that is extremely harmful.

Majority of E Cigarette brands are produced/ marketed / promoted by manufacturers of Cigarette themselves. One can never trust an industry that has cheated and killed millions purely for profit. They are utilising their same old tricks of deception, corruption, misinformation to promote their new product. With declining Cigarette usage, E Cigarette is their new source of profit.

The countries that tried to regulate E cigarette are witnessing unprecedented epidemic for which they have no solution. It was acknowledged by none other than US FDA chief.

In a country like India, it is difficult to ban a product once it has large consumer base and social acceptance. The classic example is tobacco, pan masala, alcohol etc. Since E cigarette has small consumer base, ban will be highly effective. Lack of ban on Tobacco can not be the justification for introducing a new addiction even though it may be less harmful.

There are various reports of serious lung injury and deaths due to E cigarette in the USA within 2 years of its introduction. Following such reports, it has been reported that E cigarette users are now switching to age old cigarettes.

E cigarette is marketed in a way it is attractive for youth and kids who are misled into believing that it is safe. After casual vaping, they get addicted to nicotine and finally graduate to cigarette smoking later. In short, it serves as a gateway to cigarette usage that is manufactured by the same company.

Considering that E cigarettes are very expensive (upto 3000 INR), many users switch to cigarettes (cheapest source of nicotine) when they are short of money or their device is not functioning.

E cigarette lures those smokers who have already quit cigarettes to re-initiate smoking (e cigarette) under the false notion that it is harmless.

India does not manufacture E Cigarette or its ingredients. It is mostly imported. Therefore, there is no revenue loss to the nation.

Considering that the cheapest source of nicotine is tobacco itself, it is nearly impossible to extract pure nicotine without any other harmful contamination. At the same time, it will be a mammoth task for regulators to test every product in a country where detection of contamination in food/water itself is far from satisfactory.

Rise in the share prices of cigarette companies is inconsequential because it’s usage is declining steadily. Cigarette business is no more profitable. Moreover, considering both have the same owners, the rise in share prices may work in favour of E cigarette industry too.

The governments world over are working towards reduction of tobacco cultivation due to human and environmental hazards. Introduction of E cigarette will form the basis for continuation of the tobacco cultivation.

The country is already struggling with effective control of multiple addictions ( tobacco, Supari, alcohol, cannabis, etc) among youth. There is no need to introduce one more addiction among our future generations.

Published by Prof Pankaj Chaturvedi

Deputy Director, Center for Cancer Epidemiology, Tata Memorial Center, Mumbai. Professor, Department of Head Neck Surgery, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai

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