There are 29 states in India, and six of them have now banned sales and manufacture of vape products. In a country with 1.3 billion residents, these bans are preventing a lot of people from finding safer nicotine choices.

The most recent addition to the list is Bihar, the massive country’s third-largest state by population. Bihar is home to more than 104 million people — more than the United Kingdom or Germany. It lies in the northeast on India, just south of Nepal.

The state drug controller issued a notification that “manufacture, distribution, sale, purchase, display and advertisement” are all banned, according to the Times of India. It is unusual to include purchases in vape bans, but Bihar even includes online purchases in its rule.

The ban codifies a decision made by the State Tobacco Control Coordination Committee, which is headed by the health department principal secretary. The ban is intended to “prevent youths and students from consuming nicotine,” said the executive director of the Socio-Economic and Educational Development Society, a non-governmental organization supportive of tobacco control laws.

Naturally, the law doesn’t ban cigarettes. There are more than 100 million smokers in India.

Bihar joins five other Indian states — Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab, Maharashtra and Kerala — in prohibiting sales and manufacture of vaping products.

As Indian journalist and vaping advocate Samrat Chowdhery reported here last week, the national government is also considering a ban. And the World Health Organization is encouraging such actions.

“This region has the highest number of smokers in the world and needs safer alternatives the most, but it’s also where the science deniers have dug in their heels the deepest, making it ground zero for the battle to save vaping,” wrote Chowdhery — and he’s right.

If vaping and harm reduction advocates can’t make headway in the world’s largest democracy, what good are we? If a country that has become a tech and science leader can’t be persuaded to accept scientific consensus on a product that can save millions of its citizens, we’re not working hard enough.

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