Members of the city’s vaping community (e-cigarette users) mostly young techies, have taken the Right to Information (RTI) route to debunk the government’s claim that the ban was based on scientific studies. The RTI reply they received from the Tobacco Control Division of the Union ministry of health and family welfare categorically says “no studyresearch analysis is available” on the harmful effects of e-cigarettes.
The RTI application was filed by IT professional Praveen Vijayan Pillai on the basis of the justification made by UT Khader, then health minister of Karnataka, while announcing the ban. Khader had said a decision on banning e-cigarettes was taken after a study was conducted by an NGO and experts.
But the RTI reply from the Union health ministry has exposed the state government, vapers allege. “Why did Karnataka target e-cigarettes while the traditional tobacco cigarettes remain untouched? Why didn’t it conduct any comprehensive and unbiased scientific study on the harmful effects of e-cigarettes before hastily announcing a ban? Was it actually concerned about citizens’ health or was it securing some groups’ business interests,” they asked.
Pillai, who used to smoke about 40 cigarettes a day before he switched to vaping three years ago, said: “I had reluctantly taken to vaping to get rid of tobacco cigarettes and now I am on the verge of quitting. What intrigued me is that the government imposed the ban without justifying it through a scientific study or data. That is not fair.”