Mass protest against vape ban; protesters call it genocide

Kemmannu News Network, 29-09-2019 20:42:33

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Mass protest against vape ban; protesters call it genocide

Bengaluru , September 28th 2019: Hundreds of vapers, harm reduction advocates, medical professionals and members of the legal fraternity came together on Saturday to oppose the government’s decision to ban e-cigarettes and vaping in the country. The Association of Vapers India (AVI), an organisation that represents e-cigarette users, held nationwide protests in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chennai.
The protesters termed the ban wilful genocide by the government as it will push current vapers back to deadly smoking and deprive the country’s 11 crore smokers of safer options. Smoking kills nearly a million people in India every year. They said the government’s unilateral decision is based on its vested interest in tobacco industry. The government is neglecting public health as well as human rights to shield cigarette commerce as vaping has led to historic declines in smoking rates in countries where it has been allowed, they said.

The protesters demanded withdrawal of the ordinance which bans the consumption, production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement of e-cigarettes.

Samrat Chowdhery, AVI director and harm reduction advocate, said, “So many people are on the streets raising their voice against the unconstitutional and draconian vape ban. The message is loud and clear from the people that the ban should be withdrawn with immediate effect.

“It is astonishing that the government ignored the stay orders of Hon’ble High Court of Delhi as well as Mumbai, and even imposed bans on research. We will continue to voice our protest against the ban and organize more such protests in other cities of the country. If the government turns deaf ears to our demands, we will be forced to challenge it legally,” he added.

National coordinator for the protests Jagannath Sarangapani, who is based in Hyderabad, said they were denied permission to hold protests in three of the six cities, which reveals the autocratic approach of the government. He added, "How can a ban be announced without adequate research, discussions with all stakeholders and without debate by our elected representatives? This is a knee-jerk reaction to a new tobacco harm reduction route, which needs regulation not a ban. This is not how one tackles public health policy."
Another vaper from Bengaluru said the fight against the vape ban will intensify if the government keeps ignoring the rights of millions of people.

The legal fraternity said the ban on e-cigarettes is ultra vires to the constitution. “When addressing issues of public health, it is imperative upon the state to act as a parent towards its citizens. By snatching away e-cigarettes, which are scientifically proven to be the most effective smoking cessation method, the state has not only condemned its 11 crore citizens to a lesser life and a bleaker future, but has also put at risk their families. The government has abdicated its duty as a parent and has decided to treat its citizens like a trader – simply trading their lives and future away for higher revenues and the greater benefits of a select few,” said Pingal Khan, advocate, from Bangalore. 

Dr Aparajeet Kar, a pulmonologist from New Delhi who was also at the protests, said, “E-cigarettes unlike conventional cigarettes do not burn tobacco thereby producing no tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most damaging elements in a conventional cigarette. Moreover, there is no evidence so far that vaping causes harm to other people, which is in contrast to secondhand smoke which kills 800,000 people every year.”

Kamal Bhattacharya, an artist from Bangalore, asked, “Nicotine in the form of cigarettes, gums and patches is widely and easily available. Vaping is just another method to inhale nicotine. Then why the government has banned only this category? The government allowed cigarettes to be sold easily and people got addicted and now they have to take little responsibility to undo this devil by allowing people effective means to wean off.”
The consumer body plans to hold more protests against the ban on e-cigarettes as well as against the bar on research. It will also spread awareness about harm reduction through e-cigarettes. Protesters signed a petition to the prime minister and wrote testimonials which will be sent to authorities.

About AVI – Association of Vapers India is a non-profit that advocates tobacco harm reduction through the use of vapor products and electronic cigarettes to help smokers quit. AVI is connected to a community of over a lakh consumers who have quit smoking through vaping. Its members include professionals from all walks of life, including medical and legal professionals. AVI is part of International Network of Consumer Organsations (INNCO), which represents 34 national consumer advocacy bodies. It is also part of the Asian network - Coalition of Asia Pacific Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).

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