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

News Snippets

  • Special DG (Training) in CRPF, S N Shrivastava, appointed special commissioner (law & order) in Delhi Police in order to quell the violence. He is also expected to take over as chief of Delhi police once Amulya Patnaik's term ends on February 29
  • Curfew and shoot at sight orders reportedly in force in some areas, but Delhi Police HQ does not issue a notice for the same
  • The Central government has pressed paramilitary forces to control the riots in Delhi
  • Mobs in Delhi target journalists, check them for religious identity and snatch equipment
  • 13 people deal until now in one of the worst spells of violence in Delhi
  • Violence in Delhi shows no signs of abating with fresh areas in the north-eastern part of the capital coming under its grip
  • Delhi High Court says DGCA was wrong in approving the flying ban on stand-up comic Kunal Kamra by airlines other than Indigo for his alleged misbehavior with TV anchor Arnab Goswami aboard an Indigo flight
  • The Bihar assembly passes a resolution to stick to the old NPR form, making it the first NDA state to do so
  • Arms deal for advanced helicopters, worth $3bn, signed with the US, but the trade deal remains elusive
  • Trump says he has a good equation with Pak PM Imran Khan and assures India that Pakistan is working to reduce cross border terrorism
  • Trump once again offers to mediate in the Kashmir issue
  • Trump says it is up to India to decide on the CAA
  • US President Donald Trump says PM Modi wants religious freedom for all
  • US President Donald Trump lands in Ahmedabad, received at the airport by Prime Minister Modi
  • US President Donald Trump to land in India today
Continuing violence in Delhi takes the sheen off the visit by US President Donald Trump
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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.