Association of Vapers India (AVI), a national organisation that represents e-cigarette users, has welcomed Rajasthan government’s plan to conduct a study to assess health effects of vaping before taking any decision about the future of the non-tobacco product. Rajasthan health minister KalicharanSaraf announced the state’s decision on Thursday. If it (e-cigarette) is found harmful in the study, directions will be issued to ban it in the state, Saraf said.
AVI has offered to provide media access to those who have benefited by switching from tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarettes. The association has also offered to meet the minister to share over 100 studies conducted globally by reputed bodies about the health effects of e-cigarettes.
“We believe that a science-led approach to tobacco harm reduction will make a positive difference to the lives of millions of smokers in India and the state. We request the Rajasthan government to take cognisance of scientific facts while framing a policy on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), also known as electronic cigarettes,” said Samrat Chowdhery, director, AVI.
Stating that e-cigarettes are a technological advance that reduce the harm caused by combustible tobacco products by up to 95%, Chowdhery said allowing the option of vaping will be critical in saving the lives of 12 crore smokers in India. Half of these smokers are likely to die from smoking if denied access to lower-risk alternatives like e-cigarette, he added.
Chowdhery stated there is consensus in the scientific community about the relative safety of ENDS, a fact that is also endorsed by Royal College of Physicians, UK; Public Health England; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering Medicine, USA, Cancer Research UK and American Cancer Society among many others.
While nicotine creates dependence, it is the tar produced from the burning of tobacco that harms smokers. E-cigarettes do not produce tar.
The nicotine used in electronic cigarettes is the same as in nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) such as nicotine gums and patches sold over the counter to all buyers without discrimination of age. Moreover, NRTs have low success rate, with cessation rate of barely 7%, while vaping is effective in more than 60% cases, Chowdhery added.
While passive smoking is a real threat in case of tobacco cigarettes and increases the risk of respiratory illness in children, the unintended exposure risk of ENDS is relatively much lower, the AVI functionary said.
Chowdhery pointed out that the ‘gateway theory’ that ENDS lead to tobacco use has roundly been disproved by studies. To the contrary, the sharp decline in smoking rates in countries that have promoted use of safer alternatives like e-cigarette is proof of the positive impact of vaping on public health, the AVI director said.
“A ban on ENDS effectively protects the tobacco industry, promotes illegal trade and puts ENDS users at greater risk in the absence of safety standards, while discouraging indigenous innovation and development in the field of tobacco cessation and harm reduction,” Chowdhery said.