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Steve Birr

Scientists are warning a country with one of the highest smoking rates in the world against banning electronic cigarettes.

At a conference of e-cigarette manufactures and researchers in New Delhi Sept. 9, vaping industry advocates from the Philippines implored Indian officials to abandon their plans to ban the practicethroughout the country. India’s Union Health Ministry concluded recently that vaping devices are addictive and contain cancer-causing chemicals, and advised the country to ban the sale and possession of the devices, reports Inquirer.net.

A number of states in India have already outlawed e-cigarettes, including Jammu, Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab, Maharashtra and Kerala. India currently has the second highest smoking rate in the world, accounting for 11.2 percent of all global smokers.

“Elevating the level of discourse on e-cigarettes by presenting scientific evidence from independent studies and experts is crucial to our survival,” Edward Gatchalian, president of Philippine E-liquids Manufacturers Association, said at the conference, according to Inquirer.net. “We believe that disseminating accurate and scientifically vetted evidence is the only answer to the lies, fear mongering and propaganda churned out by groups opposed to e-cigarettes.”

Regulators in India are currently reviewing the best legal course to take to ban the products, but critics say the decision undermines public health by removing safer alternatives from the marketplace. They also question the logic of banning vaping while permitting the use of regular cigarettes.

Major health groups in England, like the Royal College of Physicians, agree that using e-cigarettes eliminates most of the harms attributed to smoking. They also recommend vaping to patients trying to quit traditional tobacco products. Public Health England says vaping eliminates up to 95 percent of the risk associated with cigarettes, because the majority of cancer-causing chemicals are inhaled through smoke.

In countries where vaping is still banned or greatly restricted, smoking rates are actually increasing. Australia is experiencing a historic surge in the number of smokers, despite having some of the priciest cigarettes in the world.

Public health experts say efforts to ban vaping simply deny smokers less harmful options while leaving more dangerous tobacco products untouched.

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