India Presses Forward in Plan for Total Ecig Ban
In a country where diseases are rampant and poverty is unparalleled, you would think that electronic cigarettes would be one of the last concerns of the heavily burdened health ministry. However, this week Health Minister Harsh Vardhan made it clear that a complete ban on ecigs is a high priority. Despite numerous research projects showing that ecigs are drastically better than tobacco smoking, Vardhan insists that ecigs are no safer than real cigarettes and wants them outlawed. If he has his wish, ecigs will be illegal in India despite the fact that smoking is still very much allowed.
Until recently, ecigs were fairly rare in India but then ITC got involved with their new Eon ecig. As the largest cigarette manufacturer in the country, ITC has the power to propel ecigs into the general population quickly and Vardhan is taking action to stop them. At a recent Union World Conference on Lung Health in Spain, he alleged that ecigs push kids to become dependent on nicotine and create eventual tobacco addiction problems.
ITC designed their Eon electronic cigarette in house, but all manufacturing is happening in China at this time. The company moved towards ecigs when they saw cigarette sales declining after prices increased. In the beginning, ITC said they would introduce Eon throughout India in phases. The prospect of boosting profits was promising as ecigs have been wildly successful in the United States and Europe. But now, they might need to go back to the drawing board and reconsider their business strategy.
India has recently cracked down on the tobacco industry, forcing cigarette companies to provide 85 percent of packaging space for warning labels featuring both text and photos. While one committee suggested a ban on individual cigarettes, no one has yet tried to ban tobacco products altogether. However, an ecig ban is ranking at the top of the list for the health ministry.
It seems strange that India would spend so much time and money on eliminating ecigs rather than tobacco, which poses a much larger threat. You have to wonder if their attempts to curb ecigs are more about protecting big tobacco than public health. If India’s health was truly the priority, then ecigs would definitely not be the primary target.
Why do you think India’s health ministry is really trying to get rid of ecigs?