Punishments include up to three years in prison.
A health scare in the United States attributed to e-cigarettes, yet most likely caused by using contaminated illegally produced cannabis oil cartridges, are being used by lawmakers throughout the world as justification to enact bans that range from restrictions on the sale of all flavored vapor products to outright prohibition. Recently the second-most populous country in the world and second-largest user of traditional tobacco products has joined other nations such as Singapore in moving to ban the sale of all vapor products.
India has recently announced a complete ban on vaping; the move comes amid reports of illnesses throughout the United States loosely misattributed to vapor products. The move also comes following claims of a federal flavor ban by US President Donald Trump, as well several states enacting bans of their own.
Supporters of the ban note that flavors used in vapor products may attract teens to take up vaping, a myth often repeated by anti-vaping activists. Critics of the ban, such as The Association of Vapers India, say that vaping has allowed many of them to quit smoking and remain cigarette free, and notes that the country is hypocritical in having no plans to ban dangerous traditional tobacco products such as bidis.
While vaping is less prevalent in India as opposed to other large nations, the ban potentially removes access to a proven smoking cessation aid for a staggering 1.3 billion people. Lawmakers across the globe are hastily reacting to misinformation and bowing to outside influence and pressure before reviewing the full spectrum of scientific evidence available.
Misinformation About Vaping
India, second-most-populous nation and second-largest consumer of traditional tobacco products, recently announced a ban on vapor products. Lawmakers cite the often-repeated myths of a teenage vaping “epidemic,” and “outbreaks” in the United States that have been misattributed to vapor products.
India’s ban covers “the production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, (and) storage of e-cigarettes” as well as any advertising. The government claims the move is aimed at protecting youth and advancing tobacco control efforts, punishments for violating the ban include up to three years in prison.
“The decision was made keeping in mind the impact that e-cigarettes have on the youth of today,” Finance Minister of India Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters during a press conference in New Delhi. “These novel products come with attractive appearances and multiple flavours and their use has increased exponentially and acquired epidemic proportions in developed countries, especially among youth and children,” India’s Health Ministry added in a statement.
It is important to note that India is the world’s third-largest producer of tobacco, with an estimated 45.7 million people depending on the tobacco sector to earn their living. The Association of Vapers India said in a statement that the government’s move indicates that it is “more concerned about protecting the cigarette industry than improving public health.”
Facts About Vaping
While the Health and Finance Ministers of India have claimed the ban was aimed at combating a so-called teenage vaping “epidemic,” public health experts have repeatedly debunked this myth. In fact, research from Public Health England found that as little as 0.1% to 0.5% of teens who try vaping actually take it up regularly.
Despite claims of illnesses, actually attributed to cannabis vaping and not nicotine vaping, vapor products have been repeatedly proven to be a safer alternative to tobacco. Separate studies from Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center found vaping to be 95% and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.
In addition, a study published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences found vapers have a 57,000 times lower risk of developing cancer in comparison to smokers. The study noted that particulate matter produced by vapor was also far less harmful than the particulate matter produced by smoke.
Nicotine vaping has been proven as a remarkably effective smoking cessation aid and reduced-harm alternative to tobacco. In fact, research by the University of Louisville found vaping to be the single most effective smoking cessation tool available, beating out all other options.
India’s complete ban on vaping is another massive blow to the vaping industry and public health at large. Prohibition in India will cut off access to a proven smoking cessation tool for a potential 1.3 billion people, which could be vital to the world’s second-largest consumer of tobacco.
It’s interesting to note again that India is also the world’s third-largest producer of tobacco, and the government holds notable stakes in local tobacco firms such as ITC, one of the largest companies in the country. Organizations such as the Association of Vapers India have criticized the ban as nothing more than a move to protect the domestic tobacco industry under the guise of protecting public health.
As the world’s most populous democracy, vapers in India need to take an active role in holding their lawmakers accountable when taking such lateral executive action without any public debate or input. It is crucial for Indian vapers to remain civically engaged, as well as positively engaged in shifting public discourse surrounding vaping, to help protect what has been so vital to improving their health and lives.
Has vaping helped improve your life? How do you feel about India’s national ban on vaping? Please let us know what you think in the comments. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!