Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has reiterated his demand for a ban on bad things in country, first on Diwali firecrackers that is understandably a good reason though he knows that it is difficult to enforce.
Now, the minister has pitched in for ban on e-cigarettes saying a complete ban on them is required as new research found that they are no less unsafe than the “real thing”. An e-cigarette or an electronic nicotine delivery system is a battery-powered vaporizer which gives the feel of tobacco smoking.
The minister, himself an ENT surgeon, addressing a global tobacco control experts at the 45th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Barcelona on Tuesday, said e-cigarettes push children towards the tobacco habit and gradually driving them to addict to nicotine products.
“In our national consultation, it has been shown that children and other non-smokers tend to develop nicotine addiction at a rate greater than situations where ENDS did not exist. And after that the slide to tobacco is practically inevitable,” he said.
Not merely seeking a ban, which is not not an end in itself, he said: “The success of a ban strategy will depend on how we agree to control illicit trade and cross border sales of such products. The use of the internet for this trade should also be curbed.”
Giving some statistics, Harsh Vardhan said, “India is home to 275 million tobacco users. The use of smokeless tobacco has become a major public health menace, which, if not checked in time with strong measures could become a national threat.”
One fact that the minister highlighted during the conference was that the tobacco lobby is the most powerful one in the country and that their aggressive marketing strategies marked by attractive packaging, flavouring and price cuts represent a major challenge for the government.
“I am sure all experts present here are aware of the power of the tobacco industry.India is committed to taking proactive measures to counter the challenges they throw up,” he said.
He was happy to highlight his government’s recent moves like notifying mandatory printing of warnings on 85% on both sides of tobacco packs.