In News 

    • E-cigarettes don’t help smokers quit cigarettes according to a new longitudinal study of smokers in the United States.

    What are E-cigarettes?

    • E-cigarettes are sometimes called “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” and “Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).” 
    • Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some look like USB flash drives, pens, and other everyday items.
    • Using an e-cigarette is sometimes called “vaping.”

                                           Image Courtesy: TOI

    • Potential Benefits: E-cigarettes have often been suggested as a potential means to help smokers quit. 
    • What are the harmful effects?
      • E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, and pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products.
      •  In 2016, the U.S. Surgeon General had concluded that “e-cigarette use among youths and young adults is a public health concern; exposure to nicotine during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain.”
      • Study of 2018:  It found the use of e-cigarette daily was associated with a 79% increase in heart attack risk after other variables were taken into account.
      • the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR):  According to a white paper on e-cigarettes by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), depending on the battery output voltage used, nicotine solvents can release in varying amounts potential carcinogens such as acetaldehyde, formaldehyde and acetone. 
        • The liquid-vaporizing solutions also contain “toxic chemicals and metals that can cause several adverse health effects including cancers and diseases of the heart, lungs and brain”.
    • Defective e-cigarette batteries have caused fires and explosions, some of which have resulted in serious injuries. Most explosions happened when the e-cigarette batteries were being charged.

    What is in e-cigarette aerosol?

    • The e-cigarette aerosol that users breathe from the device and exhale can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including:
      • Nicotine
    • Ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs Flavouring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease
    • Volatile organic compounds
    • Cancer-causing chemicals
    • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead1


    Image Courtesy: CDC.gov

    What is Nicotine?

    • Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical compound present in a tobacco plant.
    • All tobacco products contain nicotine, including cigarettes, non-combusted cigarettes (commonly referred to as “heat-not-burn tobacco products” or “heated tobacco products”), cigars, smokeless tobacco, hookah tobacco, and most e-cigarettes.
    • Nicotine chemical symbol over a woman holding her head
    • Using any tobacco product can lead to nicotine addiction. This is because nicotine can change the way the brain works, causing cravings for more of it. 

    Steps of Indian Government 

    • Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Bill, 2019: It prohibits production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement of e-cigarettes. 


    Image Courtesy:TOI

    • Combating the menace of e-Cigarettes through a Statute on Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes and like devices, regulation of display and use of tobacco products in films and television programs.
    • Cigarettes Act, 1975: Tobacco control legislation in India dates back to the Cigarettes Act, 1975 which mandates the display of statutory health warnings in advertisements and on cartons and cigarette packages.
    • Delhi Prohibition of Smoking and Non-Smokers Health Protection Act: It was passed in the Delhi assembly in 1997 and became the model for Central Legislation banning smoking in public places in 2002, on the directions of the Supreme Court.
    • Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade, Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA) 2003:
      • The comprehensive tobacco control legislation aims to provide smoke-free public places and also places restrictions on tobacco advertising and promotion.
    • Tobacco Quitline Services: These toll-free quitline services (1800-112-356) were initiated in 2016 and were expanded in September 2018.
      • These are now available in 16 languages and other local dialects from 4 centres.
    • National Health Policy 2017: It sets an ambitious target of reducing tobacco use by 30 per cent by 2025, which has been devised keeping in view the targets for control of NCDs.
    • Ratification of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
    • National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP)
      • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in 2007- 08 in 42 districts of 21 States/Union Territories of the country.
      • Currently, the Programme is being implemented in all States/Union Territories covering over 600 districts across the country.
      • Objectives
        • To bring about greater awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco use and Tobacco Control Laws.
    • Other steps highlighted 
    • Measures like the displaying large warnings covering 85% of the area on packs of tobacco products, the introduction of a dedicated helpline for assisting people to quit tobacco

    Way Forward 

    • Some people believe that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes but that doesn’t mean e-cigarettes are safe. 
    • Scientists still have a lot to learn about whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking and additional research can help understand long-term health effects.
    • Schools can raise awareness of the dangers of initiating nicotine and tobacco use by providing information resources and making their campuses tobacco-free. 
    • Youth groups can organize local events to engage and educate young people on the many harms of tobacco use, including its impact on personal finances. 
    • Film, television and drama production companies can pledge to no longer depict tobacco or e-cigarette use. 
    • Celebrities and social influencers can reject offers of “brand ambassadorship” and refuse sponsorship by nicotine and tobacco industries

    Tobacco Consumption in India

    • In India, over 1.3 million deaths are attributable to tobacco use every year amounting to 3500 deaths per day, imposing a lot of avoidable socio-economic burden.
    • In addition to the death and diseases, tobacco also impacts the economic development of the country.
    • As per the WHO study titled “Economic Costs of Diseases and Deaths Attributable to Tobacco Use in India” it has been estimated that the economic burden of diseases and deaths attributable to tobacco use of tobacco in India was as high as Rs. 1.77 lakh crores, amounting to approx 1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

    Consequences of  Tobacco Consumption

    • Tobacco use has negative social consequences as it affects social interactions and relationships negatively.
    • It adds to the financial burden as smokers burn through an average of USD 1.4 million in personal costs, including spending on cigarettes and associated medical costs.
    • The tobacco industry exploits farmers and children and deteriorates growers’ health as they are exposed to ill health by nicotine that is absorbed through the skin, as well as exposure to heavy pesticides and tobacco dust.
    • It has physical impacts on almost every body part and their functions and increases the risk of cancers, heart diseases and other fertility and reproduction-related problems.
    • Smokers face a 40-50 per cent higher risk of developing severe disease deaths from Covid-19.
    • Passive smoking or second-hand smoke threatens the health of those who do not smoke.
    • Tobacco causes air pollution and pollutes the environment as cigarette butts are among the most commonly discarded pieces of waste globally.
    • Hazardous substances like arsenic, lead, nicotine and formaldehyde have been identified in cigarette butts, which leach into aquatic environments and soil.

    Global Reduction Efforts

    • Director General’s Special Recognition Awards: Every year, WHO recognizes individuals or organizations in WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control.
    • WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC): It provides a strong, concerted response to the global tobacco epidemic and its enormous health, social, environmental and economic costs.
    • Global Youth Tobacco Survey: It is a self-administered, school-based survey of students in grades associated with 13 to 15 years of age designed to enhance the capacity of countries to monitor tobacco use among youth and to guide the implementation and evaluation of tobacco prevention and control programmes.
    • United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs): It has both the WHO and the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC as leading participants, has crafted a Model policy for UN agencies on preventing tobacco industry interference, a strong policy to prevent industry tactics operating in the UN and then ensured its implementation at the intergovernmental level.
    • Firewall by WHO: In 2007, WHO established a firewall 2007 to protect policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.
    • Other Steps: In 2008, the UN General Assembly adopted a Resolution for Smoke-free United Nations Premises.
    • In 2012, the United Nations Economic and Social Council called for “system-wide coherence on tobacco control”.

    Source: IE