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

News Snippets

  • The government decides to decriminalize more than two-thirds of penal sections in the Companies Act
  • Muslim groups tell the Supreme Court that they want the Babri Masjid to be restored
  • Muslim groups claim that while they were asked questions in court, Hindus were not questioned
  • Postpaid mobile services restored in Jammu & Kashmir from today, but still no internet
  • Abhijit Banerjee, an Indian-American currently a professor at MIT, wins the 2019 Noble prize in economics jointly with two others
  • Industrial output slumps in August as the IIP shrinks by 1.1%
  • Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping watch a cultural show at the Shore Temple in Mamallapuram
  • J&K administration lifts the ban on entry of tourists in the Valley, but it remains doubtful how many will visit without being able to use mobile phones and internet
  • After Sena asks members to support the BJP candidate in Kalyan, 26 party corporators and 300 members resign setting off a crisis
  • The Centre sets up a 12-member committee to suggest systemic changes in the GST structure to improve compliance and collection, prevent misuse and evasion and rationalize rates and slabs
  • In line with the RBI outlook on the Indian economy, rating firm Moody's also downgrades growth forecast from 6.8% to 5.8% this year, saying the economy is experiencing a pronounced slowdown
  • HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh says the financial system in India does not offer foolproof security for misuse of the savings of the common man
  • Shivinder Singh and Malvinder Singh, promoters of Ranbaxy and Fortis, arrested for their role in Religare Finvest scam
  • Supreme Court says marriage can be dissolved if it has broken down irretrievably
  • DA of Central government staff hiked by 5% to 17%
Sourav Ganguly is the new president of BCCI, says conflict of interest is a big concern
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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.