E-cigarette ban draws mixed reactions in Pune

A man smokes an electronic cigarette vaporiser, also known as an e-cigarette. Reuters

The ban on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems or e-cigarettes by a government ordinance on September 18 has drawn varied reactions in Pune, with some residents welcoming the move and others wondering about the choice of target.

According to experts at Columbia Asia Hospital, tobacco is not the only culprit in cigarette smoke there is an entire array of other harmful chemicals, many of which are also present in e cigarettes.

Dr Vaibhav Pandarkar, pulmonologist at Columbia Asia Hospital, said he comes across at least two patients every day who are addicted to e-cigarettes, with symptoms like chest pain, cough, nausea, fever or vomiting.

There have been longstanding doubts over what manufacturers and some health experts call relative safety of e-cigarettes over tobacco cigarettes. We do not have sufficient research to understand the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes. The presence of nicotine makes e-cigarettes equally addictive and many youngsters who have never smoked may fall for this form of smoking, believing it to be safe. In this light, we welcome the government s expected move to ban e-cigarettes. However, we must eliminate smoke and tobacco in all forms to be able to lay the foundation of a healthier India, said Pandarkar.

But Anupam Manur, an assistant professor at The Takshashila Institution, an independent school of public policy, said if public health was truly the aim of the ban, it would make more sense to target regular paper cigarettes, which are a known killer.

I think banning e-cigarettes will have a negative outcome. The way the ordinance was brought makes the lawmakers motivations suspect, he said, adding, The Constitution of India says an ordinance is for making emergency laws when Parliament is not in session. Were people suddenly dying in large numbers due to e-cigarettes that required the Cabinet to use the emergency provisions? The Parliament will be in session in November, less than two months from now. Surely, the Cabinet could have waited until then to pass the Bill after debate in Parliament.