Vape ban may hinder achieving tobacco target

.Bangladesh’s goal of becoming tobacco-free by 2040 will be hindered if vapes are banned, harm reduction advocates said at a webinar titled ‘Save Vaping, Save Bangladesh’ on Thursday.

The webinar, organised by the Bangladesh-based Voices of Vapers, addressed the recent proposal to ban vape and other alternative and heat-not-burn tobacco products in a new amendment to the country’s tobacco control legislation.

The event hosted local and international speakers working in the field of harm reduction and people involved in vape-product trade.

Dr Delon Human, President of Health Diplomats and an expert on harm reduction, said there is no evidence for the statement that nicotine in vapes are more harmful than cigarettes, as claimed by National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC).

Research by the UK Health Security Agency, formerly known as Public Health England, has reiterated that vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking. Studies by Royal College of Physicians, European Addiction Research and US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine have all concluded that vaping is safer than smoking, Dr Human said.

Schumann Zaman, president of Bangladesh Electronic Nicotine Delivery System Traders Association (BENDSTA) said not recognising vape traders and vape users as stakeholders will have major consequences as many of these vapers are using e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. John Dunne, Director General of UK Vaping Industry Association, said vapes should be regulated separately because vapes and cigarettes are different products.

“In fact, vapes are far safer and a proven method of NRT (nicotine replacement therapy). Regulating vapes will help smokers who are trying to quit have access to vapes.

He said countries such as the UK, France, New Zealand and Canada have successfully lowered smoking rates by using vaping as NRT. “Banning vapes will lower the number of smokers trying to quit,” said Dunne.

Michael Landl, Director of the World Vapers’ Alliance said evidence shows that blocking access to vaping drives former smokers back to cigarette smoking.

Dr Mithun Alamgir, Head of the Department of Community Medicine at Enam Medical College, said “The tobacco epidemic will get worse without the help of smoking cessation tools such as vapes. Bangladesh’s goal of becoming tobacco-free by 2040 will be hindered if vapes are banned.”