Today’s headlines delivered a story that is almost too strange to be true. In the ultimate twist of mixed up priorities, India’s Union Health Ministry is taking steps to ban ecigs claiming they are too dangerous for the public. At the same time that the country’s health authorities are targeting ecigs, there are some much larger problems looming. For instance, there are untold thousands of cattle that freely roam on public streets, trash is stacked everywhere, and worst of all, people frequently defecate in the streets! But despite these major threats to public health, India is focusing on ecigs as a priority concern.
New Delhi press reports indicate that the Health Ministry is working with the Drug Controller General to push fast restrictions on ecigs. Most of the country’s exposure to ecigs is coming from illegal imports, but a few of the Indian tobacco companies are also manufacturing ecigs to offset falling profits. Ecigs are largely viewed as a “fashion statement” in India, but officials are missing the potential benefits of vaping for helping the millions of smokers to quit.
So why are they government leaders so worried about ecigs? One of India’s “experts” in public health told reporters that vaping is too dangerous to allow. “Not many people know that it has a potential of killing as inhaling nicotine could be dangerous. It is also very harmful for the passive smokers. So it has been decided to completely ban this menace by bringing strong legislation,” he said.
The world’s scientists have spent the last few years doing multiple trials with electronic cigarettes and there is a lot of research out there that contradicts India’s stance on vaping. For instance, India health officials claim that ecigs are deadly and will only attract smokers, but studies show that vaping helps smokers quit and reduces the chances of relapse. Other scientists have warned against regulating ecigs because it could ultimately be more damaging to public health. However, India is choosing to ignore the world’s health experts and continue targeting ecigs in upcoming legislation.
The fight against ecigs seems like a poor choice when there are much more pressing matters of public health for this nation. There are thousands of streets in India that are covered in human excrement as public defecation is still widely practiced. In fact, if you travel to India, it’s not uncommon to see locals squatting beside the road to relieve themselves. There are an estimated 600 million people in India that still defecate in public and this has left the nation at serious risk for health epidemics like dysentery, cholera, and typhoid. The poor hygiene has left the nation with the highest number of early childhood deaths in the world.
It seems like India is an upside down world. Electronic cigarettes are banned, but people are fully accepted for relieving themselves on any public street. Does anyone else think the health experts might not be such experts after all?