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Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), the most common prototype of which are e-cigarettes, are new-age formula for people trying to quit smoking.
Although they are projected as ‘tobacco cessation’ products by various sellers, including tobacco giants themselves, the lack of concrete evidence in support of this claim coupled with the absence of any regulatory approval for their use make them a serious public health threat.
This is especially the case when one considers the increasing import of e-cigarettes into the country.
Market research also projects the compound annual growth rate of the Indian e-cigarette industry at 63.38 per cent in the period 2013-2018.
As e-cigarettes contain nicotine and not tobacco, they do not fall within the ambit of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA), which mandates stringent health warnings on the packaging and advertisements of tobacco products.
Most e-commerce websites sell e-cigarettes as therapeutic products which enable people to quit smoking.
Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are battery-powered devices that use electricity to aerosolise a nicotine-containing fluid for inhalation.
The current unregulated sale of e-cigarettes is dangerous for a country like India where the number of smokers is on the decline (WHO Global Report, 2015) as it increases the possibility of e-cigarettes becoming a gateway for smoking by inducing nicotine addiction and perpetuating smoking by making it more attractive, thereby encouraging persons to become users of tobacco as well as e-cigarettes.
The Indian government has been slow to respond. Since the first declaration of its intention to ban e-cigarettes containing nicotine in 2014, only Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and Punjab have implemented the ban.