Public health experts are warning officials in India against a nationwide ban on e-cigarettes, arguing that such restrictions ignore science and risk the lives of smokers.
India’s Union Health Ministry concluded recently that vaping devices are addictive and contain cancer-causing chemicals, and advised the country to ban the sale and possession of the devices, according to the Economic Times. A number of states in India have already outlawed e-cigarettes, including Jammu, Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab, Maharashtra and Kerala.
Regulators in India are currently reviewing the best legal course to take to ban the products, but critics say the decision undermines public health by removing safer alternatives from the marketplace. They also question the logic of banning vaping while permitting the use of regular cigarettes.
“I think it’s going to have an impending adverse consequence, because the ban will deprive Indian smokers of a substantially less harmful alternative,” Konstantinos E. Farsalinos, a research fellow at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre in Athens, Greece, told IANS, according to The Economic Times. “Earlier in July, the U.S. FDA cancelled the intended regulation saying that e-cigarettes may probably help a substantial proportion of smokers to quit smoking and switch to less harmful alternative. Ignoring the evidence from other countries, while the country doesn’t have much of its own, and deciding on bans, can be a bad idea.”
In countries where vaping is still banned or greatly restricted, smoking rates are actually increasing. Australia is experiencing a historic surge in the number of smokers, despite having some of the priciest cigarettes in the world. The country’s smoking rate did not decline in 2016 for the first time since officials began tracking records, according to an August analysis by Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australia’s smoking population rose by 21,100 between 2013 and 2016 after years of massive declines.
A growing body of medical evidence demonstrates that vaping is a much safer alternative to smoking. A University of California study released July 26 showed a record number of Americans are ditching cigarettes with the aid of vaping devices. The rate of Americans quitting smoking jumped from 4.5 percent between 2010 and 2011 to 5.6 percent between 2014 and 2015.
That means roughly 350,000 smokers gave up the habit between 2014 and 2015.
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