For the longest time ever, e-cigarettes and vapes were used as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, which were apparently meant to help you quit. Vapes include liquid nicotine and are often tobacco-free and therefore weren't considered as harmful.
However, this week Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government has decided to put a nationwide ban on e-cigarettes.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman: The Union Cabinet has given approval to ban e-cigarettes. It means the production, manufacturing, import/export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes are banned. pic.twitter.com/qayCrQHPZp— ANI (@ANI) September 18, 2019
Although everyone is wondering why a ban on e-cigarettes and not smoking altogether (cigarettes, bidis, etc.), there are legit concerns about the impact e-cigs have on us. Here are a few reasons why they may have been banned in our country.
E-cigarettes and pens have received major global backlash.
6 deaths were reported in U.S., all due to mysterious vaping related respiratory issues. Some reported explosion of the contraption and related injuries leading to instant death. This could have been a reason why India is taking preventive measures to protect the youth.
There is a whole global scare about a mysterious 'vaping illness' that might turn into an epidemic.
According to a report by New York Times, 215 healthy teenagers in their 20s were showing symptoms of severe shortness of breath, vomiting, fever, pneumonia, and fatigue.
There were 450 reported cases of lung illnesses tied to vaping, in the US itself.
People have been suffering from the symptoms mentioned above and several have faced permanent lung damage.
The target consumer is the youth.
According to reports, flavours such as bubblegum and cotton candy are specifically designed to target the younger consumer.
What started as an alternative to smoking and a means to quit became an easy-access smoking contraption for young people. Teenagers and people in their early twenties started catching on to this trend at an alarming rate.
Data shows a high usage of flavored e-cigarettes among our youth. It's our responsibility as parents to understand the dangers that come from vaping. Our Administration supports the removal of flavored e-cigarettes from stores until they're approved by @US_FDA. #BeBest pic.twitter.com/02O5waTgIj— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) September 11, 2019
Almost a day after New York's blanket ban, India followed in its footsteps.
Here is the government's point of view, which is essentially aiming to prevent a 'vaping epidemic' in the country.
Keeping in mind U.S.A's experience and data, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has quoted:
The decision was made keeping in mind the impact that e-cigarettes have on the youth of today.
E-cigs and pens are no longer used as alternatives to smoking, according to the government.
They have become more of a 'style statement'.
While some support and appreciate the move, others resent it.
E-Cigarettes help smokers quit smoking real cigarettes.— Tanaya Patnaik (@tanaya_p) September 19, 2019
We ban E-Cigarettes.
E-Cigarettes are not more harmful than real cigarettes.
I understand, maybe it's not possible to completely ban cigarettes. But why ban E-Cigarettes? #ecigarettes #ecigaretteban
Others who support the ban believe that Nicotin -- the primary component of vapes, is listed as a pesticide in India and many other countries and think that the public health sector will benefit from it, immensely.
But the burning question still remains, why is the government putting a ban on an alternative to tobacco i.e vaping instead of tobacco filled cigarettes?
Because after all, according to a report by WHO, India is the second-largest consumer of tobacco and around 900,000 people in our country lose their lives to tobacco-related issues.
I've written a lot of about cigarettes and e-cigarettes and I know it's really confusing: this one needs lots of logic and lots of science and will not be solved by "But what about cigarettes?" 🦄🦄🦄🦄— Anoo Bhuyan (@AnooBhu) September 18, 2019
E-cigarettes banned, good. Very good. But curious why we don’t ban real cigarettes and beedis. Is the huge excise and GST collected more important than matters of public health? In that case why all this moral posturing?— Pritish Nandy (@PritishNandy) September 18, 2019
Still trying to understand how #ecigarettes are more harmful than tobacco cigarettes, bidis, guthka. If one is banned then shouldn’t the others be too.??? Wonder which bright policy maker is going to try and justify this.. https://t.co/wh9vdTW7CH— Kalikesh Singh Deo (@DeoKalikesh) September 18, 2019
While the ban has been announced formally, the extent of the ban is still unclear.
According to the Health Ministry's tweet:
#CabinetDecision: Individual possession of e-cigarettes for personal use is not an offense.#SwasthaBharat #HealthForAll #CabinetDecision #ecigarettes #vaping@PMOIndia @NITIAayog @PIB_India @drharshvardhan @AshwiniKChoubey pic.twitter.com/NklnpG28Gl— Ministry of Health (@MoHFW_INDIA) September 18, 2019
Whether a counterproductive move or a step in the right direction, only time will tell.