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'Vaping Could Put You on Path from Womb to Tomb': ICMR Recommends Ban on E-cigarettes

There are various types of ENDS devices, like e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn devices, vape, e-sheesha, e-nicotine flavoured hookah among others.


Updated:May 31, 2019, 7:13 PM IST
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'Vaping Could Put You on Path from Womb to Tomb': ICMR Recommends Ban on E-cigarettes
Representative image. (Reuters)

New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended a complete ban on e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and said that it “adversely affects almost all the human body systems with impact…from womb to tomb”.

The medical research body published a white paper on Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) on the eve of World No Tobacco Day. The ICMR said, “Use of e-cigarettes adversely affects almost all the human body systems with impact across the life course, from the womb to tomb.”

The ICMR noted that e-cigarettes could, in fact, increase the possibility of non-smokers turning to smoking. “Use of ENDS or e-cigarettes by non-smokers can lead to nicotine addiction and regular smoking,” it said and added that several studies have found that youths using ENDS or e-cigarettes were “more likely to use regular cigarettes later”.

While maintaining that e-cigarettes have adverse impact that is comparable to cigarette smoking – damage to cardiovascular system, impaired respiratory immune cell function and severe respiratory disease – it added, e-cigarettes also “poses risk to foetal, infant, and child brain development”.

Passive smoke from e-cigarettes or vapes is also harmful, it said. “Passive exposure to vapours during pregnancy can severely affect the health of both the mother and foetus,” it said in a statement, while also flagging reported cases of “accidental swallowing” by children.

Professor K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India and public health expert who have chaired the ICMR expert group said, “Tobacco consumption, especially cigarette smoking, has shown a decline in India in recent years, in response to several tobacco control measures that has already been initiated. Thus, at this juncture, marketing of a product like ENDS or ecigarettes, with unproven benefit and high potential harm from addiction and health risks, is unwarranted as a tobacco control measure.”

He added, “The risk of youth addiction is high, as borne out by international experience and in Indian media reports. The adverse population-level health impact will outweigh any presumed benefit to individual cigarette smokers.” He also underlined the risk of e-cigarettes acting as an “open a gateway for new tobacco addiction… a potential threat to the country‟s tobacco control laws and ongoing tobacco control programs and efforts.”

Professor Ravi Mehrotra, Director, ICMR-National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research said, “Smokeless tobacco use still remains a public health concern beyond the Southeast Asia Region and requires a comprehensive approach to deal with the various challenges its control. ENDS or e-cigarettes are not the only products which have been marketed as an alternative to regular tobacco smoking. There are other devices like heating but not burning of tobacco, Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems, already available in the markets which are also used by both the Smokers and well as non-smokers without any known safety and efficacy of these products as tobacco cessation aid.”

Professor Balram Bhargava, Secretary, Department of Health Research, Government of India and Director General ICMR, New Delhi warned that the situation could lead to a “public health disaster” in India. He said, “Given the extent of harmful health effects of e-cigarettes to the users as well passive exposure and multiple faces of the ENDS or e-cigarettes use epidemic around the world” unless appropriate interventions are taken.

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