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e-cigarettes: Center seeks stricter implementation of ban

What’s in news?

The Union Health Ministry has issued a public notice for stronger execution of the Act, which forbids the manufacturing, sale, and advertising of electronic cigarettes, since e-cigarettes are still readily available online and at tobacco stores despite a prohibition.

The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Act

  • It came into force in 2019.
  • All producers, manufacturers, importers, exporters, distributors, advertisers, transporters, including couriers, social media websites, online shopping websites, shopkeepers/retailers, etc. have been told by the ministry not to directly or indirectly produce, manufacture, import, export, transport, sell, distribute, or store e-cigarettes, whether as a whole product or any component thereof.
  • It is cognizable and punishable as per the statutory provisions of the Act.

Significance of the ban:

The electronic cigarette prohibition aims at shielding the next generation from a harmful new addiction.

Major concerns:

  • Despite being outlawed by the Indian government in 2019, electronic cigarettes are still widely accessible in tobacco shops as well as online and are frequently supplied to minors (below 18).
  • Youth, particularly schoolchildren, are using e-cigarettes in significant quantities.
  • E-cigarettes and similar items with appealing flavours draw the younger generation into developing a nicotine addiction.
  • The weak enforcement of the act is causing an oversupply of low-quality, unbranded e-cigarettes produced in China to enter the market.

E-cigarettes:

  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), also known as non-combustible tobacco products, includes Vapes, e-hookahs, electronic cigarettes, and e-pipes.
  • An e-cigarette, a battery-operated device, creates aerosol by heating a solution that includes nicotine instead of burning tobacco leaves like regular cigarettes do.
  • The liquid that makes up the nicotine and flavouring in the device largely involve solvents like glycerol and/or propylene glycol.
  • The aerosol mimics cigarette smoke by suspending small particles and gases in it.
  • The user inhales some of the aerosol, which is then supplied to their mouth and lungs.

Effects of E-cigarettes:

  • E-cigarettes also send ultrafine particles and nicotine deep into the lungs. Then blood absorbs it, much like regular cigarettes do.
  • Risk of heart attack: After monitoring other factors, a 2018 study indicates the daily e-cigarette usage links to a 79% increased risk of heart attack.
  • Release of carcinogens: According to a white paper on e-cigarettes by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), nicotine solvents can produce different levels of possible carcinogens such acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, and acetone depending on the battery output voltage utilised.
  • Other diseases: Toxic chemicals and metals that can cause several adverse health effects are present in the liquid-vapourizing solutions. Effects includes cancers and diseases of the heart, lungs, and brain.
  • Diacetyl, one of the flavours used in e-cigarettes, has been related to significant lung damage. Heavy metals including lead, tin, and nickel are also present in e-cigarettes along with volatile chemical compounds.
  • Brain damage: Nicotine harms The regions of the brain that regulate attention, learning, emotion, and impulse control. It also alters Synapses, or connections between brain cells. Given that younger brains develop more synapses, this is concerning.

The “adverse health impact will outweigh any presumed benefit to individual cigarette smokers” at the population level.

(Source: The Hindu, 23.05.2023)

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