New Delhi Aug,31
To highlight and discuss upon the urgency of implementing tobacco harm reduction in India, bcpbf – The cancer Foundation organized a press meet at the India Habitat Centre. Present on the occasion were international experts Prof. Riccardo Polosa from Italy and Prof Ron Borland from Australia; along with Dr. Sameer Kaul, Sr. Consultant Surgical Oncology & Robotics, Apollo Cancer Institute, New Delhi.
During the meet, experts shed light on the existing statistics that tobacco is costing India many lives and nearly 1.3 million Indians (approximately 25,000) deaths per week, are related to tobacco. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death and disease worldwide, killing one out of every two smokers.
Globally, Tobacco Harm Reduction movement is picking up pace and many scientific institutes of repute have acknowledged that ENDS pose significantly less risk to health compared totraditional cigarettes or bidis. 69 countries have regulated ENDS, including 34 out of the 36 OECD countries. Giving examples of specific countries, the experts mentioned countries like the UK and Canada which have chosen to regulate ENDS alongside cigarettes and tobacco products. UAE, on the other hand, which had banned the category, recently overturned the ban after taking into consideration the increasing medical evidence.
As an organization dedicated to cancer prevention and control in India, bcbpf-The Cancer Foundation is determined to fight the current prevailing discourse to its logical end – appropriate regulations on ENDS.
Building up on disease burden caused by tobacco consumption, Dr. Sameer Kaul, Sr. Consultant Surgical Oncology & Robotics, Apollo Cancer Institute & Founder President, bcbpf-The Cancer Foundation, New Delhi, said “It is important to weigh the science and document the well-known damaging effects of smoking against the risks and harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes. Without regulating combustible smoking that is significantly more harmful, banning e-cigarettes that has proven social, economic and health benefits over combustible cigarettes, is not justified. ENDS present an excellent opportunity for India to accelerate a decline in smoking rates and adult smokers who want to quite but may be unable to, have the right to be able to access harm reduction alternatives such as ENDS”.
Policy making should be based on scientifically sound evidence and where such evidence is in nascent stages, efforts must be focused on speeding up or encouraging research. In the light of this need, Dr. Kaul also announced the commencement of a nation-wide, cross sectional, randomized study on Indian subjects, led by bcbpf-The Cancer Foundation.
Furthering the on-going discourse on the subject worldwide and the policy scenario in India, three renowned global experts including Prof Riccardo Polosa recently co-authored and published scientific evidence based critical appraisal of the white paper, in the Indian Journal of Clinical Practice.
While sharing his views, Prof. Ron Borland said “We want to encourage scientific authorities throughout India to review the available evidence with objectivity, fairness and an open mind, assessing both the potential benefits, risks of a new policy implementation and its potential impact”.