The news has just landed: Vaping is now prohibited in all six Indian states. The Indian Vaping Association (IVA) is stupefied by this decision which is counter to the well-being of the country.
The Minister for Health press release was published on August 28th. Some official document specifies that it will be forbidden to sell, purchase, import, or consume electronic cigarette and any assimilated product.
The Department of Health justifies this decision by invoking the health hazard of nicotine contained in e-cigs. This reasoning is completely unjustified given Indians are heavy consumers of bidis, conical cigarettes made from locally-produced tobacco and known to be harmful to health. Furthermore, it has been proven that nicotine in itself is not dangerous.
A humanitarian catastrophe
The Indian government’s work to ban vaping product seems like aberration in the current climate. However, it is important to consider the context. Tobacco production is one of the most dynamic industries for the national economy. It’s true that this sector provides the livelihood of a whole demographic. Banning vaping products is a sure-fire way to ensure tobacco industry health. Unfortunately, in the long term, the ban will most likely affect the Indian economy due to the spike in smoking-related diseases.
Indeed, this new regulation is a tragedy for public health. Currently, there are 270 million tobacco consumers, of which 120 million are smokers. The research is unanimous, cigarettes are the leading cause of many forms of cancer, and a range of cardio-vascular diseases. Banning vaping in the country will prevent smokers from adopting nicotine substitutes that are less harmful to health by several orders of magnitude.
India is not the first country to ban vaping products across its territory, and the list of countries is worthy of note: Thailand, Brazil, Indonesia… It turns out that the most anti-vaping nations are coincidentally big players in tobacco production. Could the governments of these nations be attempting to save the economy at the cost of public health?