E-cigarettes are often marketed as the 'safer' choice to normal cigarettes. However, experts junk this as a marketing gimmick, saying that e-cigarettes bypass regulations and may actually lead one to take up active smoking. In the absence of any regulation over the marketing of these electronic cigarettes and their easy availability from any online shopping website, youngsters can buy them with ease in order to try the 'feeling of smoking'; and this can potentially push them to try the real thing in the near future. Since e-cigarettes are not subjected to anti-tobacco laws, they can be bought without any proof of age.
Tapan Ghose, head of department and director (Cardiology) at Gurgaon's Paras Hospital, said, "Positioning e-cigarettes as a safer or healthier option to normal cigarettes is nothing but a marketing gimmick. E-cigarettes are nothing but an electronic form of delivery of nicotine, glycerine and ethylene glycol. The carcinogens, or cancer producing molecules, are there in minute quantities."
T.S. Kler, executive director (Cardiac Sciences) and head of department (Cardiology) at Delhi's Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, said, "I am yet to come across any scientific study in India to support e-cigarettes. So why is it so easy to market e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative? Chain smokers should seek professional help. A smoking cessation program is a structured way to deliver alternative forms of nicotine, counsel against smoking and provide medication which help quit. If everything fails, this can be tried under supervision of a qualified professional. Nothing is a safer choice for a chain smoker except medical intervention. A chain smoker need to be treated by a good hand and not by marketing gimmicks."
Binoy Mathew of the Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) said, "E-cigarettes contain a liquid solution constituting nicotine and flavorings that is vaporized to simulate tobacco smoking in them. Recent research, however, shows that these battery-powered cigarettes are doing more harm than good by getting youngsters addicted to nicotine. Over 55% Indians are less than 25 years of age and extremely susceptible to such products. Realizing the potential problem, WHO called for a declaration to ban e-cigarettes during its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control for South-East Asia Region meet in July, 2013."
Mathew further added, "Although India participated in the meet, there is no concrete action on the matter by the center as yet. Punjab, however, has set a precedent in this context. Punjab was the first state to ban e-cigarettes. Through a notification in September 2013, the Punjab State Drug Controller declared e-cigarettes illegal because they contain nicotine, which is an unapproved drug and contravenes the Drugs & Cosmetics Act. Maharashtra is also planning a ban."