A second state in India is getting ready to ban vape products, and it looks like the state has directed the Food and Drug Administration to stop the use and distribution of all vape products within its borders.
First Post is reporting that Maharashtra, which is located in the Western part of the country, has followed the lead of the state of Punjab in the ban of vape products. A draft of state legislation, which was written by FDA Commissioner Harshdeep Kamble at the direction of Additional Chief Health Secretary Vijay Satbir Singh, is thought to on its way to the governor’s desk for a signature in the near future.
“We recently had a discussion with state health department on banning distribution of electronic cigarettes, and we are positive,” Kamble told The Indian Express.
The ban comes on the heels of various studies, completed in India, that conclude that liquid nicotine has health risks that make it as dangerous as smoking, which is odd, since the sale and consumption of liquid nicotine is illegal in India under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act of 1940 but has continued to enjoy the ability to be sold on the open market.
India Express is reporting that liquid nicotine is not registered as a poison per India’s FDA guidelines; only nicotine gums that contain less than 4 mg of the substance have been registered under the DGCI. Traditional tobacco products, which include nicotine and dozens of carcinogens as well as other toxins, are also freely available throughout the country.
Vape products were first introduced in India in 2003, where the industry has been able to produce and market the products with little to no intervention on the part of the government. Because liquid nicotine is not registered as a poison, it is also unregulated in the marketplace, allowing for vape products to be sold with no set health and safety standards.
This has led to an increase in concern over these products, which have been shown to curtail smoking rates in youths in Western countries. In fact, Public Health England, a health body in the United Kingdom, actively supports vaping as a smoking cessation method; a study done in Europe has also shown that between 6.1 and 9.2 million Europeans have used the products in order to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.
However, the research coming from India shows the opposite, with several experts voicing their distrust of the products.
“These are newer forms of tobacco that are equally harmful. The market is running unregulated in India since there are no laws on e-cigarettes,” said head and neck oncologist Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, who spoke with reporters about the alleged ban prior to the press release by the government.
Another doctor, Dr. P.C. Gupta, who is the director of the Healis Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health, has stated that laboratory tests done on vaping have confirmed that it releases toxic chemicals into human bodies when inhaled. Gupta has stated that: “there still needs to be a large -scale study to prove the carcinogenic effects of e-cigarretes (sic), but till that happens, we are pushing the government to form some regulations.”
According to the Indian press, the government is worried that vape products will act as a gateway to smoking traditional smoking products. Previous studies have been reported to show that vaping actually does add to the number of youths trying cigarettes for the first time, including one study that showed that combined traditional cigarette and vape use among teens and young adults was higher in 2014 than cigarette use alone in 2009.
“The study didn’t find any evidence that e-cigarettes are causing youth smoking to decline,” added Lauren Dutra, a social scientist at RTI International, which is a not-for-profit research organization based in North Carolina.
The study most cited by Indian researchers is, interestingly enough, the U.S. Surgeon General Office’s report on the same subject. The data for the study was taken from a survey of more than 140,000 pre-teens and teens who completed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2004 and 2014.
This study has been criticized by experts and researchers all over the world for its neglect in categorizing vape and traditional cigarette use properly. While the study did have an outcome that seemed to show vaping and smoking rates were up in both demographics, the study did not differentiate between the following: the number of students who had previously smoked traditional cigarettes and then quit by using vape products; the number of students who had vaped e-liquids that did not contain nicotine; and the number of students who were occasional or regular users of either product before or after the survey was completed.
Because the conclusion was broad and neglected to use the most base of scientific categorization for accurate results, it has been dismissed by most of the scientific community within America.
Another study, which focused on the effects of vape liquid flavorings, was conducted and found that they are toxic. The conclusion, which was published in the ACS Journal Environmental Science and Technology, showed that when vape liquid flavorings were heated in a vape device, the liquid broke down into toxic compounds at levels that exceed occupational safety standards.
The results of the study showed that flavored e-liquids contained levels of aldehydes that exceeded the safe threshold for occupational exposure, meaning the level which a government thinks is safe. The standard set for this study was set by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists and showed that the aldehyde levels exceeded the standard by factors of 1.5 to 270.
The issue with the study comes from the measurement of aldehydes, which is an organic compound that can be found occurring naturally, such as in essential oils, sugars, and other substances. Although formaldehyde is located in this chemical group, it is not yet known if this is the aldehyde compound the scientists refer to, or whether or not the levels are similar or lower than that found in traditional cigarettes.
This study was followed by yet another study that showed that flavoring chemicals in vape products, which are also used in candies and other processed foods, could play a role in damaging cells in the mouth.
“We learned that the flavourings — some more than others — made the damage to the cells even worse,” Fawad Javed from University of Rochester Medical Center told reporters. He also added that: “It’s important to remember that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is known to contribute to gum disease.”
The ban effectively stops the use of liquid nicotine, at least for the time being, yet it is strange that the government would choose to paint the ban as a way to combat the free flow of the substance in the country.
“E-cigarettes have liquid nicotine, which is not a registered drug. We are using that provision to enforce its ban. The notification will be sent to FDA once approvals from Mantralaya come in,” said Dr. Sadhna Tayade, joint director of the Directorate of Health Services (DHS).
The vape ban is not yet law in Maharashtra, although it is considered imminent. While the government continues to use American studies to highlight the concern of youths taking up smoking, something that experts have already debunked and that the US government is already reviewing, it is hoped that reasonable minds will prevail in India, allowing for an exception to the ban to allow it to be studied by impartial researchers.
This publication will continue to update readers on the India vape ban.