MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, RAJYA SABHA
National Spokesperson and Head of IT Cell, BJD
The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Bill, 2019, as passed by Lok Sabha
DR. AMAR PATNAIK (ODISHA): Sir, I strongly support the Bill. I have just two quarrels with it. The first one is, as many Members have spoken about, 'possession and use of e-cigarettes' is missing. In Singapore or in many countries, the possession and use of the drug is itself taken care of. They don't use so many other adjectives over there. It is just the use of that phrase. That you could consider. The second aspect is about the complete ban. Let us see what happens to gutkha. The gutkha was banned by FSSAI in 2011. There were strong directions from the Supreme Court. But, to circumvent the ban, the gutkha making companies started selling pan masala separately with pure tobacco; then you can mix and chew it. They are one step ahead. The National Tobacco Testing Laboratory also found nicotine in many pan masala products contrary to what the packaging claims. I only wish that the same thing does not happen here. Many speakers have spoken about it. The second point is more important. Why not ban regular cigarettes? Why not ban tobacco? Many speakers have spoken about it. The logic that was used in the statement of the Bill says, "Nicotine can harm developing adolescent brains, the development of which continues till the age of twenty-five, it harms parts of the brain that controls attention, learning, mood, impulse control, may also increase the risks of addiction to other drugs." The point is, all these are true for normal tobacco users as well. If you look at Clause 2, it says, 'expedient in the public interest'. Is not banning normal regular cigarettes or the entire tobacco products also expedient in the public interest? The objective of the Bill states, 'in the interests of public health to protect the people from harm.' The same thing applies to cigarettes or all tobacco products. The Government refers to the ICMR White Paper on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems recommending a complete ban. But, the evidence is not clear. Now, the World Health Organisation, in its statistics on tobacco use says, "Around 80 per cent of the world's 1.1 billion smokers live in low and middle income countries. There is no safe level of exposure to second hand tobacco smokers. Fourteen per cent of Indian adults are current tobacco smokers and 34.6 per cent, very high, consume tobacco in any form." So, through the Chair, I would urge hon. Minister to kindly consider that if 1.16 per cent of the GDP is spent, directly or indirectly, on addressing the issue of use of tobacco in some form or the other and the revenue from that is only a quarter of that, why not consider banning entire tobacco in this country and set an example for everybody? Maybe, we would have the pressures, but I think, -- I just gave you the example -- regulation has not taken us too far. Thank you.