Hundreds of Millions of Lives Are At Risk
We are very scared…We will have to go back to cigarettes…
Chirag Gulati – Indian Vaper
The battle to stop the Indian government from an outright ban on e-cigarettes has begun.
The fight is being led by the Association of Vapers India – [AVI] a non-profit advocacy group of around 300 members.
As I reported in the piece India Should Not Ban Vaping the country is the next major battleground to get vaping as a harm reduction tool accepted.
Sadly the Indian Government made its thoughts on the matter all too obvious with the 12th hour and spiteful cancellation of the recent Vape Expo India a move that left hundreds of vape companies from across the world stranded and severely out of pocket.
Those fighting to stop the Indian government banning e-cigs have recently received the backing of pro-vaping cardiologist Dr Konstantinos E. Farsalinos who in effect said the government was risking the lives of the millions of smokers in the country:
In my opinion, banning e-cigarettes is against public health. I think it’s going to have an impending adverse consequence, because the ban will deprive Indian smokers of a substantially less harmful alternative.
His opinions are echoed across the country that is home to a staggering 120million smokers which in real terms means the country makes up 12% of the worlds smokers – a really quite frightening statistic.
But even more sobering is the figure of 900,000 smokers who die of smoking related diseases in the country EVERY YEAR.
Professor R.N. Sharan from the North-Eastern Hill University in Shillong, Meghalaya said:
Banning is a hasty decision and can be counter-productive, because we are not aware of the extent of e-cigarette use or its harm in India.
Confusion Over Nicotine and Tobacco
Sadly it looks like those looking to get e-cigs and vaping accepted in India are facing a huge uphill battle expecially when Arun Kumar Jha a so called expert and member of the country’s health ministry said recently:
Nicotine is as harmful as tobacco – We have no evidence to show it reduces smoking.
Pity I didn’t have his email address as I could supply him with a wealth of scientific arguments to the contrary.
At the moment and despite vaping being proclaimed illegal in some states in the country the Government’s hands are tied as e-cigarettes do not come under any of the country’s current laws.
To preempt the Government rushing through new laws back in August the AVI filed public interest litigation against the ban on the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes in Karnataka.
The High Court will look at the case at the end of September and by filing this the AVI has forced the government’s hand as they will need to respond.
Open Letter to the Indian Government
The AVI has also written directly to the Union Health Minister – Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda – asking that he and the government considers regulation rather than banning.
We are writing on behalf of Association of Vapers India ( AVI). AVI is an advocacy group of the people, created with the sole objective of spreading awareness about the healthier alternative to tobacco/cigarettes. We also intend to work with the government in framing policy guidelines that will help save the lives of millions of Indian smokers. No business or individuals with vested interest are involved in our day to day operations.
Sir, we have come across media reports on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Devices (ENDS) regulations and the views of the expert committees set-up by the Ministry of Health, Government of India, to examine the issue. Further, various State Governments have taken undue extreme measures like prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes, without evaluating the consequences of the decision.
At the outset, we would like to emphasise on the scientific evidence of the “harm reduction” potential of ENDS, and consequently, the benefit they can provide to millions of smokers in India (11.2% of world’s smokers, 900,000 annual deaths) who can substitute their current nicotine product with an ENDS device. Also, regulators world over have adopted a more balanced approach of regulating the category instead of complete prohibition.
The letter goes on to cite the growing amount of evidence out there supporting the claim ‘vaping is safer than smoking’ including links to Public Health England – Tobacco Control Plan UK and the recent FDA report.
The letter ends with a plea not to ban vaping in India as:
- Such a decision would subvert the harm-reducing potential of the category
- It would ignore the mounting scientific evidence on the category from across the world and acceptance of these products as a safer alternative.
- It will provide a huge fillip to smuggling of these products into India
- It will rob the right of millions of smokers and vapers in India
You can read the full letter HERE.
Vapers in India Need to Get Involved
Let’s hope something – anything – comes from this letter and let’s hope many more vapers in India wake up and join the fight.
Because it stories from vapers like 33-year-old Rahul Adhlakha from Delhi who after smoking for 16 years and after developing serious chest problems tried an e-cig:
Since that day, I have not smoked a single cigarette – I started vaping with 6ml of nicotine, but have now reduced the nicotine content to 3ml in a month’s time.
Or how about ex smoker and now vaping advocate Adarsh Kaushal who spends his days encouraging smokers to quit:
For me it is social service and I am doing my bit to save them.</span
Those are just two stories from 120million smokers in the country – a tiny fraction but multiply that 120million times and you can see the effect e-cigarettes would have on the country.
The Indian government needs to take this matter as seriously as they can – they need to listen to the real harm reduction experts and act now – because quite frankly millions of lives are at risk.
You can find out more about the Association of Vapers India by clicking the link.
Source for quotes/images: Scroll.in