Dr KK Aggarwal
On the eve of World, No Tobacco Day, Indian Council of Medical Research released White Paper on Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS).
ICMR has published the White Paper on ENDS in its J
ournal Indian Journal of Medical Research Indian J Med Res, Epub ahead of print, pp 1-10, DOI; 10,4103/ijmr.IJMR_957_19 on 29th May, 2019.
Earlier, in the first week of May, 2019 Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India had issued letter and instructions to various government bodies including ICMR and requested not to publish any statement / research paper / document / article / reports / study etc. as well as not to organize any consultation / workshop etc. on Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) & the like devices that enable nicotine delivery without prior consultation with Tobacco Control Division, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
The publication of the said white paper looks like a violation of the letter issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India to ICMR. Nowhere in the White Paper, ICMR has stated that this white paper is being published with prior consultation with Tobacco Control Division, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
ICMR in its White Paper has acknowledged that “E-cigarettes seem to have rather similar or even weaker efficacy as cessation aid”, however, still the white paper of ICMR biasedly talks about banning ENDS.
It is quite astonishing that on Word No Tobacco day’ when the country was looking for publishing many researches and publications on ENDS, the ministry stopped everyone else from publishing any article, research paper BUT itself published a white paper through ICMR.
The said paper does not compare ENDs with combustible tobacco smoking. If it is more harmful, its banning is justified. But any thing which is less harmful should not be banned until combustible `tobacco in any form is banned.
Whenever there is a controversy, it needs to be resolved with scientific discussions and opening up research and not banning it.
Its difficult to understand that the ministry on this day instead of asking to ban tobacco wants to not only ban ENDS but also any dialogue or research on it.