An outright ban on e-cigarettes without collecting any research data may put public health in India at greater risk, experts have warned.

While tobacco-associated cancer is easily preventable by cessation of tobacco usage, a prohibitive environment may do more harm than allowing smokers, who wish to cease tobacco use, an alternative option based on nicotine replacement via e-cigarettes, the experts said.

The primary cause of cancer is not nicotine but the constituents of the smoke in combustible tobacco, and other constituents in chewing tobacco, said M. Siddiqi, Chairman of Kolkata-based non-profit Cancer Foundation of India and R.N. Sharan, Professor of Biochemistry, North-Eastern Hill University in Shillong, Meghalaya.

E-cigarettes, also known as Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), considered to be safer than tobacco cigarettes, are hand held electronic devices that try to create a feeling of smoking tobacco.

They work by heating a liquid to generate an aerosol, commonly called a “vapour”, that the user inhales.

Banning of e-cigarettes/ENDS could be disastrous for India which houses the second largest smoking population in the world, Siddiqi and Sharan said in an appeal to Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda.

Modern technology which delivers safe nicotine in an acceptable form should be looked at as an alternative nicotine replacement option, they added.

First Published | 25 August 2017 4:43 PM
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