New Delhi: Pro E cigarette interlocutors have lambasted the White Paper released by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) that has recommended ban on it, saying the apex research institution is promoting wrong science at the cost of public health. They have also sent a letter to Union Health Minister Dr Harshvardhan, trying to convince him through evidences how ICMR has acted against the public good.
In a press conference on August 26, 2019, they alleged that the expert committee mislead ICMR which is supposed to promote good science. They asserted that ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems) is the most effective way of cigarette smoking harm reduction in the face of difficulty in quitting smoking.
Two scientists Prof. Riccardo Polosa from Italy and Prof Ron Borland from Australia went at length to prove that ICMR’s expert committee’s recommendation of ban on e cigarettes is ill founded and divorced from science. They branded white paper of research institute just a hoax and said is a sad commentary on ICMR’s credibility. They went to the extent of saying that E-cigarette is as innocuous or harmful as coffee, only that both of them should be taken in moderation.
Dr Sameer Kaul, a renowned cancer specialist in Indraprastha Apollo hospital and founder of The Breast Cancer Patients Benefit Foundation (bcpbf)-Cancer foundation, turned out to be more strident apologist of E-cigarette. Dr Kaul was direct in alleging that the powerful tobacco lobby was behind ICMR’s recommendation of ban on E-cigarette. Without mincing words, Dr Kaul said ICMR is brazenly acting against public good by negating vast body of globally accepted studies in favour of e cigarette. Dr Kaul said that 69 countries including USA and UK have accepted it as the most potent means of tobacco harm reduction. All prominent regulators including US FDA and Cancer Association and Foundations have endorsed e cigarette.
Prof. Polosa said he with his team reviewed ICMR’s White Paper which has been published in Indian Journal of Clinical Practice. He said after review it turned out that ICMR has done selective review of literature and has failed to consider the substantial evidence that demonstrates the harm reduction potential of e cigarette.
They said studies have clearly shown 70 % of those who tries to quit smoking fail. Keeping this in view, the global trend is moving towards tobacco harm reduction. The conversation on tobacco control has shifted to harm reduction, which is a public health strategy to diminish the risks associated with health behaviours. Experts world over have acknowledged that it is not nicotine that causes most of the harm associated with tobacco smoking but rather some of the other 400 toxins in cigarette smoke, out of which 69 are known carcinogens- thereby proposing cleaner nicotine delivery methods such as ENDS ( Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems).
E cigarette is a handheld battery powered vaporizer that stimulates smoking by providing some of the behavioural aspects of smoking, including hand to mouth action of smoking but without burning tobacco.
According to them, unlike conventional cigarettes, Ends do not involve combustion. Instead the device heats a liquid into a vapour or aerosol which the user then inhales. As they do not contain tobacco, Ends are free from tobacco residue (commonly tar), carbon monoxide or other known carcinogens that are present in traditional cigarettes. Studies have shown that switching completely from cigarettes to non combustible tobacco products reduces exposure to these toxic by products, in some cases up to 99% to levels that are not detectable.
They said it has been proven by a rapidly growing body of global evidence that ENDS are considerably less harmful than conventional smoking and many acclaimed research and medical institutions such as American Cancer Society, Public Health England, Royal College of Physicians, British Medical Association have found that vaping poses a fraction of the risks of smoking:
These evidence clearly states: That Risks of health hazards arising from e cigarettes are unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm of smoking tobacco, That life time cancer risks of vaping is assessed to be less than 0.5% of the risk of smoking and that Vaping is fraction of the risks of smoking , at least 95% less harmful and of negligible risk to bystanders.
Both the scientists supporting E cigarettes hold a place of eminence. Prof. Riccardo Polosa is Director of Institute of Internal and Emergency Medicine and the school of Specialization in Rheumatology of the University of Catania in Italy. In March, 2018, he founded the centre of excellence for the acceleration of harm reduction. He had been president of Italian Anti smoking league LIAF for many years. Prof Ron Borland is the Nigel Gray Distinguished Fellow in Cancer Prevention, at The Cancer Council Victoria, Australia. He also has honorary professional positions at the University of Melbourne and the University of Queensland.