New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended a complete ban on e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) based on currently available scientific evidence.
In a white paper released today, the council noted that e-cigarettes and other such devices contained highly addictive nicotine solutions that were highly addictive as well as harmful ingredients such as certain flavouring agents and vapourisers.
“Use of ENDS or e-cigarettes has documented adverse effects on humans, which include DNA damage; carcinogenic, cellular, molecular and immunological toxicity; respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological disorders; and adverse impact on foetal development and pregnancy,” a paper released by the organisation noted.
The document has also rejected the argument that e-cigarettes could help smokers quit tobacco consumption.
“While such benefits have not been firmly established, there is also evidence that there is risk of people continuing to use both them as well as tobacco products. In addition, these devices could encourage non-smokers to get addicted to tobacco,” it said.
A committee headed by K. Srinath Reddy of the Public Health Foundation of India analysing over 300 research articles from across the world and prepared the white paper.
It noted that manufacturers add to the allure of the devices using various flavours and attractive designs, and that in many countries, disturbing trends of adolescent people using these devices have emerged.
“Use of ENDS or e-cigarettes can open a gateway for new tobacco addiction. On balance, these have a negative impact on public health.”
The committee included experts from ICMR, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi; the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh; the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.
Reddy noted that, at present, there are more than 460 different e-cigarette brands providing different configurations of nicotine delivery systems, that they come in over 7,700 flavours and that they are fast becoming a fad among youngsters.
“Studies have found that youths using e-cigarettes and other such devices are more likely to use regular cigarettes later,” he said. “They increase the likelihood to experiment with regular products and increase the intention to indulge in cigarette smoking.”
Ravi Mehrotra, the director of the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research, Noida, and a member of the panel, added that in the wake of low barrier to entry, the market for e-cigarettes and other such devices has been growing rapidly, with the industry bringing in a diverse set of products through a variety of channels.
Balram Bhargava, the director-general of the ICMR said scientific and research data provided in the white paper could help the government formulate necessary policies on e-cigarettes and other such devices.