An early death to Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

by March 19, 2019 0 comments

An early death to Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

The Indian government has decided to move against electronic nicotine delivery systems. Will it achieve anything?

The Union Health Ministry does not like smoking and with millions of tobacco-related deaths annually, that is a good thing. There is no doubt that smoking is a bad, dirty and expensive habit — even if it does not kill you, it can leave you with debilitating health consequences later on in life such as heart disease, high blood pressure and neurological problems such as strokes. There is ample evidence connecting the consumption of tobacco with health issues, yet no country has ever  banned smoking outright. But the tobacco industry realises that it is in a pickle with fewer younger persons taking up the habit. So in order to appear cool, several start-ups in the past few years have introduced new “electronic nicotine delivery systems” (ENDS), commonly called “vaping” as the nicotine is vaporized and not burnt in the process. There are several ENDS products in the market, the most popular being Juul, an American brand that was planning to enter India later this year but now has been stymied because of  health concerns. This is not peculiar to India. Several health authorities are worried about the high concentration of nicotine in products like Juul and the fact that the nicotine refills are available in all sorts of flavours, including seemingly innocuous ones like “bubblegum,” that not only mask the amount of nicotine consumed by users but easily attract new users. The Health Ministry, therefore, wants Juul and other ENDS devices banned and even though such attempts have been thrown out by the courts, they want the import of such devices controlled.

The simple fact is that there are several things that are banned in India but are still easily available, something that will be highlighted by the large-scale consumption of the psychotropic substance bhang on Holi by a large number of people. Most vaping devices are extremely expensive and banning them will serve little purpose since many users will bring in the devices as personal items from abroad. Controlling vaping products as well as regulating the type of refills sold and the concentration of nicotine available will be far easier to monitor. At the same time, tobacco control in India should not miss the woods for the trees. Instead of looking at the very top of the market, tobacco control advocates have to continue the fight against chewing tobacco, crack down on bidis, which still form a majority of the tobacco consumed in India, and work out a rehabilitation plan for those impacted by disease from tobacco-related issues.

Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer

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