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  • TRENDS shares views on ENDS [E-Cigarettes] from global cancer research bodies with Union Minister for Health.

    Published on August 2, 2019

    On the back of the statements by the Health minister Dr. Harshvardhan in the Rajya Sabha on 31st July, where he urged Members of Parliament to run anti-tobacco campaigns to fight growing menace of cancer in their respective constituencies, TRENDS, the Association of ENDS in India, shared with the Minister recent views on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) from leading Cancer research bodies.

    Cancer Research UK and American Cancer Society have both emphasized that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than cigarettes.

    In its position statement issue in February 2018, The American Cancer Society(ACS) noted, “Based on currently available evidence, using current generation e-cigarettes is less harmful than smoking cigarettes” and added that the health effects of long-term use are not currently known.

    In their clinical recommendation they said, “Some smokers, despite firm clinician advice, will not attempt to quit smoking cigarettes and will not use FDA approved cessation medications.  These individuals should be encouraged to switch to the least harmful form of tobacco product possible; switching to the exclusive use of e-cigarettes is preferable to continuing to smoke combustible products”.

    Cancer Research UK funded 2017 study titled ‘Nicotine, Carcinogen, and Toxin Exposure in Long-Term E-Cigarette and Nicotine Replacement Therapy Users’ concluded that “Long-term NRT-only and e-cigarette–only use, but not dual use of NRTs or e-cigarettes with combustible cigarettes, is associated with substantially reduced levels of measured carcinogens and toxins relative to smoking only combustible cigarettes”. It further added that given the involvement of these carcinogens and toxins with cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and pulmonary diseases, “Our results suggest that complete substitution of combustible cigarettes with e-cigarettes may reduce disease risk and support the assertion that e-cigarette use may be less harmful than smoking.”

    This is further to TREND’s representation to the Health Ministry to reconsider the attempt to ban e-cigarettes under the Drugs Act. It has pointed out in its prior communication that the DTAB’s reported recommendation is a reversal from its earlier stance when it recommended that ENDS cannot be considered a drug, under the DCA; that a prospective ban on ENDS in India is a counter-trend from the scenario in other countries. Most of the countries in the world are adopting a “regulate not ban” approach towards ENDS. A total of 69 countries which includes 34 of the 36 OECD countries have regulated ENDS till date; that despite being a nascent product category, there are studies from reputed institutions highlighting that ENDS is less harmful than traditional cigarettes and finally, given that there is no ban on cigarettes and beedis in India, TRENDS believes it is unfair, discriminatory, and premature to ban the ENDS category and that any such decision to ban would be unreasonable and arbitrary in nature.

    Speaking on this, Praveen Rikhy, Convenor, TRENDS said, “We would like to provide constructive suggestions for regulation of ENDS in India, which will prevent access of products to vulnerable groups such as children under 18 years and pregnant women, while allowing controlled access to adult smokers looking for a less harmful substitute to conventional cigarettes”.

    TRENDS, Voluntary Association of Trade Representatives of ENDS in India is a  group of importers, distributors, and marketers of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) devices which has been petitioning the government to objectively consider the benefits and harms related to ENDS and initiate open consultation, which will help to better inform its decision for the ENDS category. Such a consultation should consider all voices on the issue including manufacturers, civil society organizations, NGOs, medical experts (both who are in opposition and support), and other relevant organizations with a view to develop an appropriate regulatory framework that must be adhered to by the industry.