HYDERABAD: Walk into any of the many swanky pan shops of the city and the sight of e-cigarettes and vapes will catch your attention. What was once touted to be a “safe” alternative to tobacco, vapes are now set to face a blanket ban if the State follows the advisory issued by the Union Health Ministry. While the ministry says these gadgets pose a great health risk, advocacy groups and store owners have doubts.
“This is nothing but a move by the powerful tobacco lobby to cut down the growing e-cigarette business,” says one vape store owner. “Tobacco companies know that more and more people are switching over and it will impact their revenue.” Similarly, founder of Association of Vapers India Samrat Chowdary strongly opposed the ban.
“Almost half of cigarette smokers suffer from lung diseases and eventually succumb to it. Vapes came as a perfect alternative for them and are now surpassing the sales of chewable products like Nicotex,” he claimed. Priced between `800 and `2,000, vapes have caught the attention of not just those wanting to quit cigarettes, but has also become a hit among teenagers.
This is causing some concern among health experts as vapes are not completely health, they are also known to cause considerable damage to health although it’s claimed to be relatively less than cigarettes. For instance, there are doubts about the “gateway effect” of vapes -- wherein one form of addiction leads to another, like from vapes they could move to cigarettes.
Samrat Chowdhery, however, dismisses these possibilities. “There is no evidence to the gateway effect on teenagers,” he says. “There could be a considerable number of minors smoking, but sale cannot be banned altogether. Instead, regularisation should be the way forward.” Experts now feel vapes will go the same ways hookah did.
While the State police banned hookah bars as they found lot of minors were smoking them in public places, sale of tobacco, perfume and pan for hookah has not been controlled. They are still available in Nampally, Afzalgunj, Begum Bazar, and Charminar. “Now, just like hookah, vapes will also be sold illegally,” says Jack.Experts also have a big, million dollar question: If vapes are banned, why cigarettes are still being sold?