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Health, legal and farmers’ representatives tell state government that withdrawing the ban can be a big jolt on public health

Bengaluru, July 7, 2016: Representatives of public health, legal fraternity and farmers on Thursday came together to demand the Karnataka government to stick to its ban order on electronic cigarettes and don’t yield to the industry lobby.

“Karnataka government has taken an important and public health friendly step by banning electronic cigarettes in the state. However, there seems to be under the carpet efforts being tried by the industry people to force government to withdraw the ban. They are trying to mislead the tobacco farmers who don’t have any connection with the E-cigarette ban” said Mr. S J Chander, programme officer, Society for Community Health Awareness Research and Action (SOCHARA) who also coordinates the Consortium For Tobacco Free Karnataka – a network of several organizations and individuals working to reduce tobacco use and associated harms in Karnataka.

The Consortium appreciated the state government for banning E-cigarettes in interest of health and safety of citizens, particularly youth in the state.

E-cigarettes, which mimic the size and shape of cigarettes, contain a cartridge containing liquid, which includes nicotine (up to 36 mg/ML) among other chemicals (usually propylene glycol or glycerol). “There is no tobacco content here. But the industry people are misleading some sections of farmers in the state to oppose the E-cigarette ban. This looks like an effort to shoot at the government using the shoulders of the innocent farmers” said, Mr. Chander.

Mr. Mallikarjun Jakati from Karnataka Krishik Sangha, Belagavi, said being a farmer he was aware of the ground reality. “Some self-interested people are trying to create rift among farmers to attain their goals. We know that e-cigarettes are as bad as any tobacco products that are eating into the lives of our kids. We want the state government to stick to its ban orders,” he added.

 “The Karnataka government, on June 15 2016, through a notification has prohibited the sale (including online sale), manufacture, distribution, trade, import and advertisement of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, its parts and components in any shape or size of cartridges containing nicotine”. “ENDS, as currently marketed, is not registered or approved by Drug Controller General of India or any other competent authority.” they added.

Dr Vijayalakshmi I B from Indian Cardiologic Society explained about the ill-effects of e-cigarettes, especially on youngsters. She said that “the move to ban E-cigarettes followed recommendation of the committee on cancer prevention whichfound these Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems have “serious” long-term effects on health, especially those of youth who are getting addicted to the same.”.  “About 2 mg and 4 mg nicotine is allowed in chewables like nicotine gum for de-addiction purpose, but these e-cigarettes usage is leading to addiction towards it” she added.

Dr Upendra Bhojani, Assistant Director, Institute of Public Health (IPH) said States like, Punjab and Maharashtra have already banned sale of e-cigarettes. He opined that “it’s is an old tactic by industry to create confusion among policymakers through wrong information and use of front groups.” Like, the state of Punjab, there is need for the Karnataka government to enact a policy that do not recognize tobacco industry as legitimate stakeholder in tobacco control policymaking as there is fundamental and irreconcilable conflict of interest between industry interests and public health interests. “In that case, industry and their front groups would not have easy access to governments and policymaking processes”.

World Health Organization as well as Indian Medical Association have come out with statements discouraging use of e-cigarettes.

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