Organisations representing e-cigarette users and vapers in India appealed to the Health Ministry to not impose an outright ban on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and vaping in the country, saying it would deprive millions of smokers of safer choices and cause damage to public health.
The Council for Harm Reduced Alternatives (CHRA) and Association of Vapers India (AVI) sought that the government carry out an evidence-based study before banning ENDS and vapers.
E-cigarettes were not only less harmful compared to tobacco cigarettes but also help smokers wean off the nicotine dependence, they said, adding that vaping posed far lower risk to bystanders than passive smoking.
Regulatory permission for the use of e-cigarettes in developed countries like the US, EU and the UK yielded positive results, with smoking rates falling in these countries in recent years, CHRA director Samrat Chowdhery said.
Toxic chemicals and tar produced from the burning of cigarettes were the main culprits for tobacco-related deaths across the world, not the nicotine, the AVI said.
E-cigarettes had nicotine but not tar as there was no combustion, and banning e-cigarettes would deny the country's 120 million smokers a lower-risk means of nicotine intake and cessation, it said.
"The government has so far relied on an emotional appeal to persuade tobacco users to kick the habit, but never offered an alternative beyond gums and patches, which have a very low success rate.
"An attempt to ban e-cigarettes is regressive given that the government's stated policy is to provide wider choices to consumers for all products and services, and not restrict them," Chowdhery said.