E-cigarettes ban was long overdue, say city doctors

Bengaluru: The Centre’s decision to ban e-cigarettes has been welcomed by doctors and health professionals in the city, who believe it is long due.

The health ministry advisory issued in public interest applies to all Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) like e-cigarettes, heat-not-burndevices, vape, e-sheesha, and e-nicotine flavoured hookah and makes it clear that they are not to be sold (online as well), manufactured, distributed,  imported or advertised.

Responding, Dr Satayanarayana Mysore, head of the department of  interventional pulmonology and sleep medicine at Manipal Hospitals in the city, says the ban on e-cigarettes is a positive step as they have  several  side effects. “Considering how harmful they are, they must be completely avoided,” he adds.

Dr. Ranganatha R, consultant, pulmonology, at Narayana Health City, says e-cigarettes are not a proven better option to smoking regular cigarettes. “If they are freely accessible as a means of quitting tobacco smoking, they become acceptable in  society, which could prove harmful in  future,” he warns.

Prof (Dr) L Sreenivasa Murthy, senior consultant, internal medicine, Gleneagles Global Hospitals, Richmond Road, explains that ENDS devices use battery-powered cartridges to produce a nicotine-laced vapour, but there is no long term scientific research to confirm that they are safe.

“Smoking of e-cigarettes, e-sheesha or e-hookah, both among the young  and old , can be a serious health risk as they may encourage people to switch to cigarettes once they are addicted to their  nicotine content,” he says.

“The decision to ban ENDS should be welcomed considering the health risks involved and their impact on the youth, particularly children, adolescents, pregnant women and women of reproductive age,” the professor adds.

However, the Association of Vapers India (AVI), an organisation that represents e-cigarette users across the country, has hit out at the Centre, questioning its motive in  asking states to ban e-cigarettes. The consumers’ body rubbishes the government’s contention that vaping will increase smoking among teens, citing evidence to the contrary from a survey of 60,000 teens conducted by Public Health England.

Meanwhile,  research by International Tobacco Control shows that tobacco related illnesses  cause nearly nine lakh deaths a year in India. The number is expected to touch 1.5 million by 2020.

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