National

E-cigarettes body seeks Kerala CM's help to get around proposed ban

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on November 08, 2019 Published on November 08, 2019

An E-cigarettes trade association has urged Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to evaluate for himself what is best in the interests of the citizens of the state in view of Centre's move to ban the same.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has proposed to place in the public domain, and invite feedback to an Ordinance to ban E-cigarettes in the country.

This is what led TRENDS, a voluntary association of Trade Representatives of ENDS - a group of importers, distributors, and marketers of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) devices - to write to Vijayan.

In their letter, TRENDS pointed out that the Centre did not undertake any research or study or make a comparative assessment of risks associated with different methods of tobacco intake by Indians.

The Centre seems to have instead depended on data from the US to justify the Ordinance Bill to ban E-cigarettes in India, said Praveen Rikhy, Convenor, TRENDS.

TRENDS requested Vijayan to ask the Centre to allow the Kerala Health department to conduct its own research and study so that a rational decision that benefits the maximum number of people of the state can be taken.

Health is a state subject and the cost of diseases connected to tobacco consumption falls on the State exchequer. After all, if there is a safer alternative to cigarette smoking, which cuts cancer incidence by 50 per cent, why should Kerala not offer the option to smokers, Rikhy wondered.

Tobacco consumption levels alarming

In Kerala, the statistics for tobacco consumption is quite alarming, with overall tobacco users (15 years and above) at 12.7 per cent and smokers at 9.3 per cent.

TRENDS pointed out that E-cigarettes could be a solution for both smokers who want to move to a less harmful option, and the State which profits from lower health costs and better mortality rates.

The Ordinance to bring about a ban on E-cigarettes is based on 'selective sourcing of scientific and medical opinion' and without holding a single stakeholder meeting.

As many as 62 world-renowned doctors and scientists, including Atul Ambekar of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, had refuted each of the four claims raised by the Indian Council of Medical Research, recommending a ban E-cigarettes.

TRENDS also sought to bring to the Chief Minister's attention some facts related to E-cigarettes that had not received due consideration by the Centre.

Regulation of E-cigarette category

More than 70 countries have regulated the E-cigarette category to allow access to adult smokers with safeguards. Just 28 countries have banned them, of which many are now considering regulating them.

There has been a stark decline in smoking rates wherever E-Cigarettes have been regulated (the US, the UK, France and many others). Also, leading government and public health bodies deem E-cigarettes significantly safer than traditional cigarettes.

TRENDS sought the Kerala Chief Minister's good offices to request the Centre for a due diligence on the possible impact on public health, state exchequer, farmer and trade employment and adult consumers before taking a final decision for adopting the Bill to ban E-cigarettes in the forthcoming session of the Parliament.

Published on November 08, 2019
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