oppn parties Banning E-Cigarettes Alone, When Other Tobacco Products Are Freely Available, Will Not Help

News Snippets

  • University vice-chancellors in West Bengal decide not to hold final-year examinations despite UGC prod, will instead go by the state government advised 80-20 formula where 80% will be marked on performance in past semesters and 20% on internal assessments in the final semester
  • The Centre wants the ITI and other top Indian firms to bid for 5G as Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE are not likely to be allowed to participate
  • India and China agree on total disengagement to return to peace ahead of the next round of military talks
  • The Supreme Court allows delivery of summons and notices via WhatsApp and email, but questions remain on proof of actual receipt
  • National Investigation Agency says the proceeds from the Kerala gold smuggling case could have been used for terrorist activities
  • Four Maoists shot dead in Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar
  • Despite localized lockdown, Covid cases continue to rise at an alarming rate in West Bengal. Newer areas brought under containment zones in Kolkata
  • ICSE, ISC results declared, Average scores in the English paper, 20% lower this year than the average in most years, pulls down the aggregate for most candidates
  • IIP contracts by 35% in May. Manufacturing goes down by 39.3%
  • Row erupts over CBSE's decision to reduce the syllabus by 30% this academic year due to the disruption caused by the pandemic. Experts say several lessons that the ruling dispensation does not like are being removed
  • Gangster Vikas Dubey's nephew killed in an encounter by UP police who also pick up his key aide Raju Khullar and his son Adarsh
  • MHA sets up an inter-ministerial committee to probe the alleged financial misdeeds of three trusts linked to the Gandhi family
  • Actor Jagdeep, most famous for his Soorma Bhopali act in Sholay, passes away
  • Pakistan says Kulbhushan Jadhav has declined to file a review petition and will stick to his mercy plea. India calls it a farce
  • India to keep a strict vigil to confirm that the Chinese are abiding by the deal on the pullback at the LAC
The plot thickens in Rajasthan. Sachin Pilot removed as deputy chief minister and PCC chief. His loyalists dropped as ministers.
oppn parties
Banning E-Cigarettes Alone, When Other Tobacco Products Are Freely Available, Will Not Help

By A Special Correspondent

By banning e-cigarettes, is the government showing genuine concern for the health of the people or is it arbitrarily exercising executive authority to help the flourishing tobacco industry? For, banning something that is being used by a tiny fraction of the population and letting other tobacco products, like cigarettes, scented and raw (khaini) tobacco and gutka, that are consumed by a vast majority show the hypocrisy and selective and arbitrary exercise of authority. The figures speak for themselves: only eight people are reported to have died from smoking e-cigarettes in the US against the 4,80,000 who are said to die every year due to smoking 'real' cigarettes. In India, the figure of tobacco-related deaths runs into millions annually. 

The government's argument is that the youth - even school-going teenagers - are being drawn to e-cigarettes as it is being projected as a cool thing is acceptable only up to a point. In the West, e-cigarettes are something that is being promoted as a device to kick the smoking habit. But in India, the reverse is taking place. Youngsters are being introduced to nicotine via e-cigarettes (as they are supposed to be "cool") but very soon their contemporaries make them out to be "sissy" and "girly" things and lead them to move up to "hard" cigarettes.

Hence, if cigarettes and other tobacco products are freely available, the ban on e-cigarettes is not going to work. Further, prohibition never works. It just manages to push the product underground. The risk factor in dealing with a banned product is often more than mitigated by the premium charged. It also leads to corruption as those mandated to enforce the ban are often 'managed' by greasing their palms. Hence, enforcing a ban is a big issue in India. The government should have gone for regulating the import and sale of e-cigarettes or could have simultaneously stopped the production and sale of some other tobacco products. Just banning e-cigarettes is unlikely to achieve the desired results and lays open the government to the charge of helping the tobacco industry in eliminating a potential competitor.