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Wednesday 3 June 2020

E-cigarettes banned; railway workers to get 78-day bonus

Scientists could establish neither benefits nor health risks posed by e-cigarettes; there are at best claims and counter-claims by policy-advocacy groups

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New Delhi: The Cabinet on 18 September decided to ban e-cigarettes and give railway employees bonus worth 78 days of pay in the upcoming festive season of Durga Puja and Diwali. The decision of the Cabinet of the Narendra Modi government will benefit 11 lakh employees of the Indian Railways. This will cost Rs 2,024 crore to the exchequer.

The Modi Cabinet took several important decisions today. Giving information about the decision of the Union government, Minister Prakash Javadekar said that, for the last 6 years, the Union government had been giving bonuses to railway employees unfailingly. He said that this decision of the BJP-led NDA government is a “reward for productivity” to the railway employees.

The Modi Cabinet today also banned e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes now face complete prohibition in India.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the ban on e-cigarettes means a complete ban on its production, import-export, transport, sale, distribution and advertising. She said that the decision of the government would stop the youth who are learning to smoke using e-cigarettes.

Health and Family Department Secretary Preeti Sudan said that, according to the new rules, if someone sells, imports or exports e-cigarettes, they may be sentenced to a year in jail or a fine of Rs 1 lakh or both. For the second and subsequent offence, the rule provides for a fine of Rs 3 lakh or a jail sentence for 5 years or both.

Scientists unsure about hazards/benefits of e-cigarettes

It is believed that there are 400 brands of e-cigarettes, although no brand of e-cigarettes is made in India. According to a report, 150 flavours of e-cigarettes are available in the market. The Cabinet has banned e-hookah, too.

An electronic cigarette or e-cigarette is a handheld, battery-powered vaporiser that simulates smoking and provides some of the behavioural aspects of smoking, including the hand-to-mouth action of smoking, but without burning tobacco.

Using an e-cigarette is known as “vaping” and the user is referred to as a “vaper.” Instead of cigarette smoke, the user inhales an aerosol, commonly called vapour.

E-cigarettes typically have a heating element that atomises a liquid solution called e-liquid. E-cigarettes are automatically activated by taking a puff; others turn on manually by pressing a button. Some variants look like traditional cigarettes, but they come in many variations. Most versions are reusable, though some are disposable. There are first, second, third and fourth-generation devices.

E-liquids usually contain propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, flavourings, additives and differing amounts of contaminants. E-liquids are sold also without propylene glycol, nicotine, or flavours.

The community of scientists could establish neither any benefit nor any health risk posed by e-cigarettes. There are at best claims and counter-claims by different activist groups, which they make with cherry-picked quotations from science journals. There is tentative evidence they may help people quit smoking although they have not been proven to be more effective than smoking cessation medicine.

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