AVI organises annual board meet, chalks out plans for 2021

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• Aims to reach 1 million people to spread awareness on reduced risk tobacco alternatives • To develop draft bill for regulation of safer nicotine products • Plans legal battle on misuse of ENDS ban law by government agencies New Delhi, 15th December 2020: The Association of Vapers India (AVI), a consumer body focused on lower-risk alternatives to harmful tobacco use, held its 4th Annual board meeting in Goa last week where the agenda for 2021 was chalked out. After taking stock of activities in the current year, discussions were held on advocacy and outreach activities, network building, developing a policy paper and adopting legal remedies.

The AVI board decided to develop a mass outreach program to connect with 1 million smokers in India in the coming year to help them quit and to spread awareness about reduced risk alternatives. The board also decided to take on legal battles on the misuse of the e-cigarette ban law by authorities to harass vapers.

Recognising that one of the challenges in adopting harm reduction policies is lack of insight on how safer nicotine products can be regulated, the AVI board decided to commission a policy paper for lawmakers to understand regulatory frameworks being applied in other nations and how one can be developed in the Indian context.

Addressing the issue of legalising vaping in India, AVI director Jagannath Sarangapani said, “The battle against the ban on vaping is going to be a long one. However, we are well prepared to go the distance. Currently, AVI is sensitising lawmakers and bureaucrats on the benefits of risk mitigation which can positively impact India’s 27 crore tobacco users and their families. Meanwhile, we are also almost ready to start a legal battle against misuse of the ban on vaping.” Speaking about the global shift towards tobacco harm reduction, AVI director Samrat Chowdhery said, “In the past two years, while four countries including India have banned vaping, 22 nations from various parts of the world have legalised or regulated it. It is high time the Indian government also learns from the global experience, takes into account evidence-based studies, and reconsiders the ban on vaping.” The board also live-streamed a session of its meeting and took questions from the viewers. Addressing issues of transparency, moderator and AVI board member Kanav Kumar said the books of accounts have been made open to the public.

The meeting was attended by all the board members including Maneesh Kasera, Pratik Gupta, Mridul Mathew, Olivier Vulliamy and Dhaval Gogate.

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