[op-ed snap] Smoking e-cigarettes is injurious to health


  1. Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), the most common prototype of which are e-cigarettes, are the new-age formula for people trying to quit smoking
  2. However, they present a simultaneous promise and threat in the world of tobacco control
  3. They are projected as ‘tobacco cessation’ products by various sellers, including tobacco giants themselves
  4. However, there is lack of concrete evidence in support of this claim coupled with the absence of any regulatory approval for their use
  5. This makes them a serious public health threat

Danger without warning:

  1. As e-cigarettes contain nicotine and not tobacco
  2. They do not fall within the ambit of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (COTPA), which mandates stringent health warnings on the packaging and advertisements of tobacco products
  3. Most e-commerce websites sell e-cigarettes as therapeutic products which enable people to quit smoking

Websites selling e-cigarettes:

  1. Of the websites, 50% have no health warnings on the consumption of e-cigarettes despite the fact that these products contain nicotine
  2. Eight additional websites, display warnings in an inaccessible manner
  3. These websites carry health warnings stating the addictive properties of nicotine and other ill effects of e-cigarettes (including the warning that e-cigarettes are not meant for non-smokers) but do not display them as a part of the description of the product
  4. Instead, these warnings are displayed at the bottom of the web page or clubbed with the section on terms and conditions, unlikely to be noticed by a regular buyer
  5. In one case, the health warning was incorrect, stating that “nicotine does not pose major health issues even at a higher volume of consumption”

Harmful effects of e-cigarettes:

  1. There are possibilities of the product exploding (incidents have been reported globally) and accidental consumption of the liquid inside the e-cigarette, which leads to death
  2. The current unregulated sale of e-cigarettes is dangerous for a country like India where the number of smokers is on the decline (WHO Global Report, 2015)
  3. It increases the possibility of e-cigarettes becoming a gateway for smoking by inducing nicotine addiction
  4. It will perpetuate smoking by making it more attractive, thereby encouraging persons to become users of tobacco as well as e-cigarettes

Government action:

  1. The Indian government has been slow to respond
  2. Since the first declaration of its intention to ban e-cigarettes containing nicotine in 2014, only Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and Punjab have implemented the ban
  3. The State governments are adopting different routes: Punjab has classified nicotine as a poison, while Maharashtra treats it as an unapproved drug
  4. Lack of a uniform approach in dealing with this public health problem will not only jeopardise the health of the people, but will also enable the sellers of such products slip through the holes

The way forward:

  1. It is recommended that the Indian government impose appropriate restrictions on the sale and advertisement, online and otherwise, of e-cigarettes
  2. E-cigarettes should come with proper health warnings, in order to plug the existing regulatory vacuum
  3. The government should also commission independent scientific research on the benefits and risks posed by these products in the Indian context


E-cigarettes are becoming a rising trend especially among youngsters today. People are using it unaware of the causes. You may be asked to write about the COPTA (which is discussed in b2b) or means to overcome this issue.


  1. Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2009-2010 suggests that tobacco control laws, particularly the pictorial health warnings and advertisements, mandated under COTPA, have been highly effective in increasing awareness of the health risks of tobacco (smoking as well as non-smoking)


  1. The Act prohibits smoking of tobacco in public places, except in special smoking zones in hotels, restaurants and airports and open spaces. Smoking is allowed on roads, inside one’s home or vehicle
  2. Advertisement of tobacco products including cigarettes is prohibited. No person shall participate in advertisement of tobacco product. However, restricted advertisement is allowed on packages of tobacco products, entrances of places where tobacco products are sold
  3. Tobacco products cannot be sold to person below the age of 18 years, and in places within 100 metres radius from the outer boundary of an institution of education, which includes school colleges and institutions of higher learning established or recognized by an appropriate authority
  4. Tobacco products must be sold, supplied or distributed in a package which shall contain an appropriate pictorial warning, its nicotine and tar contents. Text that SMOKING KILLS and TOBACCO CAUSES MOUTH CANCER in both Hindi and English should be printed

Smoking costs $1 trillion, soon to kill 8 million a year: WHO

  1. Source: A study by the World Health Organization and the US National Cancer Institute
  2. Findings: Smoking costs the global economy more than $1 trillion a year, and will kill one third more people by 2030 than it does now
  3. Loss more than gain: That cost far outweighs global revenues from tobacco taxes, which the WHO estimated at about $269 billion in 2013-2014
  4. Life threat: The number of tobacco-related deaths is projected to increase from about 6 million deaths annually to about 8 million annually by 2030, with more than 80% of these occurring in LMICs (low- and middle-income countries)
  5. Around 80% of smokers live in such countries, and although smoking prevalence was falling among the global population, the total number of smokers worldwide is rising
  6. Health experts say tobacco use is the single biggest preventable cause of death globally
  7. Economic loss: It is responsible for likely over $1 trillion in health care costs and lost productivity each year
  8. Efforts: The economic costs are expected to continue to rise, and although governments have the tools to reduce tobacco use and associated deaths, most have fallen far short of using those tools effectively
  9. Government fears that tobacco control will have an adverse economic impact are not justified by the evidence
  10. The science is clear; the time for action is now


Recently, issues like alcohol ban, tobacco ban, cigarette packet advertising were in news. This study can enhance your arguments in such answers.

Delhi bans chewable tobacco for a year

  1. Context: The Delhi government has banned the sale, purchase and storage of all forms of chewable tobacco, for one year
  2. The ban is in pursuance of a series of directions from the Supreme Court on sale of tobacco products
  3. Loophole: In earlier notification, term ‘gutka’ was used & retailers started selling the raw components (betel nut and raw tobacco) in separate pouches, thus rendering the ban ineffective
  4. Protection: Now, unpackaged products of chewable tobacco will also be covered under the ban

India steps up fight against cigarette firms over health warnings

  1. Context: Health Ministry has ordered government agencies to enforce a new rule for bigger health warnings (85%) on cigarette packs
  2. Fight: Against the country’s $10 billion cigarette industry that has shut down its factories in protest
  3. Conflict: Action highlights a growing conflict between the tobacco industry and the federal government
  4. Tobacco industry: New rules are impractical and create ambiguity as the Parliamentary panel’s report had called for warnings to cover half the packs’ surface area

National Tobacco Control Policy recommended

  1. Context: A panel has recommended framing an “equitable and pragmatic” National Tobacco Control Policy
  2. Panel: The Committee on Subordinate Legislation on Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment (COTPA) Rules 2014
  3. Why? Various organs of government can work in tandem & tobacco production can be brought under a regulatory regime
  4. Also, to help achieve the overall objectives under National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP)
  5. Problem: No single crop is as remunerative as tobacco and it is difficult to persuade its growers to switch to alternative crops

What is National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP)?

  1. It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme
  2. Aims: To bring about greater awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco use and about the Tobacco Control Laws
  3. Also, to facilitate effective implementation of the Tobacco Control Laws (COTPA 2003)
  4. Nodal Authority: National Tobacco Control Cell at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
  5. It is responsible for overall policy formulation, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the different activities envisaged under NTCP
  6. Also, State & District Tobacco Control Cells are established to ensure ground level implementation

Parliament panel favours bringing tobacco production under regulatory regime

  1. News: Parliamentary panel has recommended framing an “equitable and pragmatic” national tobacco control policy
  2. Reason: Various organs of govt can work in tandem and tobacco production can be brought under a regulatory regime
  3. Challenge: The agriculture ministry has pointed out that no single crop is as remunerative as tobacco and it is difficult to persuade its growers to switch to alternative crops
  4. Statistics: Approx 800 million kgs of tobacco is annually produced in the country

Parliamentary panel recommends smaller pictorial warnings on tobacco products

  1. News: The 15-member committee has recommended that pictorial warnings be restricted to only 50% on both the sides of the cigarette packets
  2. For bidis, chewing tobacco and other tobacco products, the warning be restricted to 50% of the display area and on only one side of the packet
  3. Reason: It will be too harsh on the tobacco industry and will result in flooding of illicit cigarettes
  4. Importance: From April 1, pictorial warnings covering 85% of the principal display area of the front and back sides of all tobacco products can become effective

Pictorial warnings on tobacco products to get bigger

  1. Pictorial health warning on packages of tobacco products will become bigger from April 1 next year.
  2. A health ministry notification said that all tobacco products would carry warnings covering 85% of the package area up from 40% at present.
  3. The Rajasthan HC had earlier ordered the Centre to ensure that larger pictorial warnings are carried on all tobacco products by September 29.
  4. The Ministry will seek 6 months as the producers of the products need to make adjustments to their products.

[op-ed snap] Why India Ignores A $16-Billion Smoking-Led Health Crisis

Cigarettes are getting most of the blame but the bidi industry has consistently squeezed concessions from the government.

  1. World Health Organisation’s Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2015 is largely ignored in India.
  2. Its single-line message: Raising tobacco taxes can help curb smoking.
  3. About one million Indians die from smoking-related causes every year, which are among the top three ways to die.
  4. A 10% price increase on tobacco products could cut consumption between 2% and 8% in developing nations, according to the WHO.
  5. Bidi smokers face a higher risk of developing potentially-fatal chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), among other illnesses, because tobacco is packed more loosely in bidis, requiring smokers to inhale more strongly.
  6. Many women workers suffer gynaecological problems and pregnancy complications.

E-Cigarettes: Risks that they hold


  1. In recent years the global electronic cigarette industry has evolved into a $3-billion business with 466 brands: there was only one manufacturer in 2005.
  2. E-Cigarette is the most common prototype of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
  3. It is a battery-powered device with a replaceable cartridge; the cartridge contains nicotine and variety of flavors.
  4. As it is tobacco and smoke free, therefore no toxic by-products are released.
  5. Though, it is considered less harmful but, it emits aerosols.

Existing evidence shows that ENDS aerosol is not merely “water vapour”. It contains cancer-causing agents, such as formaldehyde, which in some brands reach concentrations close to that of conventional cigarettes.


We have made remarkable progress in terms of tobacco control, but the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes threatens to undermine years of hard work. Can you suggest possible approaches to check on this menace? Cite your sources to substantiate your answer.

Interesting facts on Tobacco usage in India

  1. The North-Eastern region exhibits highest rates of tobacco use – Mizoram has 80% men using some form of Tobacco.
  2. These chewable tobacco products contain purified tobacco, paraffin, areca nut, lime, catechu & 230 permitted additives + flavours including known carcinogens.
  3. National Tobacco Control Program (07/08) – Govt. piloted this programme after the COTPA Act, 2003. Program is implemented at 3 levels – District, State & National.

Of bidi, pan masala & gutkhas

  1. Let us not forget smokeless tobacco and pan masala, which are consumed by many as 45% of us.
  2. Gutkha is basically a flavoured and sweetened dry mixture of areca nut (supari), catechu (kattha), slaked lime and tobacco.
  3. The same without the tobacco is termed pan masala.
  4. Continuous use of these mixtures give you oral submucosal fibrosis or OSF.
  5. Note – Areca nut, used for centuries in India and the East, both as a “health practice” and as social courtesy can have ill effects.
  6. Areca nut + Betel leaf = Tambulam.

Questions (attempt in the comments section)


Critically comment on the efficacy of provisions of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act in curbing consumption of tobacco in India.


It is found that there has been increase in tobacco consumption level by children below 18 years of age in India. What multipronged approach is necessary to keep the young ones away from tobacco? Discuss.


Is the introduction of pictorial warnings covering 85 per cent of the principal display area on both sides of all tobacco products ineffectual in India? Critically comment.


Discuss the risks of smokeless tobacco, challenges faced in imposing ban on it in India and measures taken by governments in this regard.


What options does government have to discourage smoking in India? Tobacco companies are resisting a new regulation that the mandatory pictorial warnings on cigarette packages be made larger. Should government yield to such resistance because tobacco farmers are affected? Comment.


It is found that there has been increase in tobacco consumption level by children below 18 years of age in India. What multipronged approach is necessary to keep the young ones away from tobacco? Discuss.

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