According to India’s Trade Ministry, they are currently unable to ban the import of e-cigarettes but warn it could be on the horizon.
It doesn’t take a lot of looking to realize vaping has been handled quite differently around the globe. Given that we’re still continually learning more about their risks and benefits, it should come as no surprise. So while places such as the UK have incorporated e-cigarettes into their existent harm reduction and smoking cessation campaigns, some places have instead worked toward a ban on vapes themselves. India’s Health Ministry, for example, has been working to ban the import of e-cigarettes over the last several years.
Luckily for vapers though, the Trade Ministry came out and announced there’s currently no legal basis with which to ban vaping products. The announcement was met with mixed reactions depending on who you ask. Vapers celebrated the decision for allowing them to keep access to their favorite products. At the same time, anti-vapers have blasted the government for not doing enough to curb their usage. Regardless where you stand, the battle isn’t quite over yet as according to officials there’s still a distinct path for such an import ban to become a reality.
No Legal Basis
An internal memo from India’s Trade Ministry was sent late last week and reported on by Reuters. In it, officials make it clear there is currently no way for them to step in and restrict the import of vaporizers, regardless of how much the Health Ministry is begging for it. These calls from the Health Ministry have only gotten stronger and more frequent over the last year, as they’re now typically discrediting vapes for posing a “great health risk.” According to an internal document from last month, another primary factor in their inability to proceed is several of their multilateral commitments to the World Trade Organization. However, these restrictions are not set in stone, and many legislators are already hard at work attempting to meet their requirements.
According to the same memo, one of the first steps to implementing their desired import ban would be passing federal regulations which “can stand the scrutiny of law.” After that, they would seemingly be able to announce their import ban, but many disagree about how long this could take. Regardless of when this happens, Juul Labs is readying to launch its uber-popular devices in the world’s second most populous country. According to estimates, the vaping market in India alone is already valued at around $15.6 million and is expected to grow by 60% a year for the next few years.
What The Researchers Say
Hopefully, when it comes down to it, lawmakers in India will take a look at the growing pile of independent and peer-reviewed research which supports the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of e-cigarettes. One of the most common arguments against e-cigarettes is their potential impact on teens, and how many worry it could lead a new generation into a life of smoking. Luckily a massive report we have on the topic begs to differ. The report conducted by Action on Smoking and Health asked over 60,000 students about their relationship and understanding of vaping. The team concluded that not only is vaping not leading most teens into smoking, but only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up a vaporizer regularly. It makes a lot of sense when you consider a report published by researchers at the University of Louisville which concluded not only is vaping an effective smoking cessation tool but actually the single most likely to succeed.
But what about the harm reduction value of e-cigarettes? Well, we actually have more research for that question than any other, starting with a comprehensive report published in 2015 which found vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. But don’t be fooled, we’ve gotten this level of result many times over the last four years. In fact, just a couple months back researchers concluded cigarette smoke has 93% more toxicants than e-liquid vapor. But to really understand what’s at stake, consider the report in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences which concluded the excess lifetime cancer risk of a smoker is about 57,000 times higher than a demographically similar vaper.
This turn of events in India is a clear victory for the vaping industry, but we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. While it does seem clear that more people are starting to understand what vaping has to offer, the majority of people still see vaping as little more than an alternative tobacco source. If we don’t work to educate the smokers in our lives about what they stand to gain, it may only be a matter of time before this import ban does become law. That’s why it’s so important we fight now. We must work to spread the good word about e-cigarettes before it’s too late.
Do you think this is a significant win for the vaping industry? What’s the biggest hurdle for broader acceptance of vaping? How should we work to spread positive information about e-cigarettes? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.