‘END’ of the road: Pro­posed drug tag may lead to ban on elec­tronic smok­ing de­vices

The Hindu Business Line - - NEWS - IS­TOCK­PHOTO

Go­ing tough on Elec­tronic Nico­tine De­liv­ery Sys­tems (ENDS), the Health Min­istry has pro­posed to clas­sify such al­ter­na­tive smok­ing de­vices, in­clud­ing e-cig­a­rettes, as “drugs” un­der the Drugs and Cos­met­ics Act, in a bid to ban their man­u­fac­ture, sale, dis­tri­bu­tion and im­port.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial sources, the pro­posal has been ap­proved by the Drug Tech­ni­cal Ad­vi­sory Board (DTAB).

The move comes amid a rag­ing de­bate over the harm-reduction as­pects of ENDS. Some or­gan­i­sa­tions claim that these de­vices help in smok­ing ces­sa­tion and are less harm­ful al­ter­na­tives to tra­di­tional cig­a­rettes, while the gov­ern­ment A few States have al­ready banned e-cig­a­rettes

con­tends that they pose health risks to users, sim­i­lar to those of con­ven­tional cig­a­rettes.

The Cen­tral Drugs Stan­dard Con­trol Or­gan­i­sa­tion (CDSCO) has pro­posed that man­u­fac­ture, sale and dis­tri­bu­tion of ENDS, should be pro­hib­ited un­der Sec­tion 26A of the Drugs and Cos­met­ics Act, 1940, while their im­port should be out­lawed un­der Sec­tion 10A of the leg­is­la­tion.

The pro­posal stated that un­der the pro­vi­sions of ‘drugs’ in the Act, any item in­tended to be used as an aid to help quit smok­ing is cov­ered un­der the def­i­ni­tion of drugs.

Ac­cord­ing to the pro­posal: “After re­vis­it­ing its ear­lier de­lib­er­a­tions, the Drugs Con­sul­ta­tive Com­mit­tee has rec­om­mended that since ENDS and re­lated prod­ucts are used as a to­bacco ces­sa­tion prod­uct and func­tion for nico­tine de­liv­ery, these de­vices fall un­der the def­i­ni­tion of ‘drug’ as de­fined un­der Sec­tion 3(b) of the Drugs and Cos­met­ics Act, 1940.”

As­sert­ing that availabili­ty of ENDS de­vices is wide­spread in the coun­try and poses se­ri­ous health risks, the pro­posal men­tioned that the safety as­pect of these prod­ucts has not been es­tab­lished, and their ef­fi­cacy on the In­dian pop­u­la­tion too has not have been ap­proved un­der the pro­vi­sions of the drug law.

Some States — in­clud­ing Pun­jab, Haryana, Ker­ala, Mi­zo­ram, Kar­nataka, and Jammu and Kash­mir — have al­ready banned e-cig­a­rettes as an un­ap­proved drug.

While all of them have banned it un­der the Drugs and Cos­met­ics Act, some have also added the Poi­sons Act, 1919.

The In­dian Coun­cil of Med­i­cal Re­search (ICMR) has rec­om­mended a “com­plete ban” on ENDS, say­ing their use can lead to nico­tine ad­dic­tion among non-smok­ers also.

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