Rajya Sabha

December 2, 2019

Dr Santanu Sen speaks on The Prohibition of E-Cigarettes Bill, 2019

Dr Santanu Sen speaks on The Prohibition of E-Cigarettes Bill, 2019


Thank you, Deputy Chairman Sir, and good afternoon one and all. Sir, in the capacity of a member of this august House, and as the National President of Indian Medical Association, I rise to support this Bill placed by hon’ble minister, with a heavy heart. Of course, with this Bill you are preventing a person from committing suicide by jumping from fifth floor, but we are keeping the more affordable and accessable tenth floor wide open to jump from.
Sir, I do not have any other way than to harp on the same string by saying that this Bill remains silent about the consumers. If somehow I can manage e-cigarette and if I smoke what will happen to me, I do not know. I think none of you knows what will happen to me.

Sir, let me put forward certain data and certain points before the hon’ble minister. He has nicely depicted constituents of e-cigarettes. Let me tell you the constituents of a normal cigarette. It normally contains nearly 700 chemicals, out of which 250 are very much harmful. Out of that 250, 60 chemicals are important to create cancer, all of them are carcinogens, like nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, arsenic, ammonia, acetone toluene, pesticide, methanol, methylamine.

Sir, what is the consequence? Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart diseases by two to four times, strokes by two to four times, lung cancer by 25 times, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases by seven times. There is hardly any organ in our body which does not get affected by smoking. For pregnant women, there are incidents of stillbirths and low birth weight of a baby. Sir, male dead for tobacco related cancer is 42 per cent of total male deaths (for the female it is 18 percent).

Sir, you will be surprised to know that the total global load of smokers is increasing in India, which is 12 per cent and even more.

  • There are 267 millions tobacco users and out of them 184 million are smokers.
  • Above 15 years of age, 28.6 per cent of the population are tobacco users; out of them male are 42 per cent and female account for 14 per cent.
  • Out of this, smokeless tobacco is used by 21 per cent, out of which male are 29 per cent and female are 12 per cent.
  • On the other hand 7.7 per cent are beedi users, out of which male are 19 per cent and female are two percent.
  • Youth, that is below the age of 15 years, 14.6 per cent of the entire population is addicted, out of which if you consider the boys it is 19 per cent and girls around eight per cent. Out of them 4.4%, they go for smokeless and rest 48 per cent.

Sir, so far passive smoking is considered:

  • 30 per cent of the entire population gets affected by passive smoking in the indoor workplace,
  • 7.4 per cent get affected in the restaurants, and
  • 13.3 per cent get affected in the public transport.
  • So far the youths are concerned, 36.6 per cent get affected in the public space and 22 per cent at home.

Sir, every year, nearly one million people die due to tobacco usage, out of which smoking and secondary is nine lakhs and smokeless is 2 lakh. Sir, as widely said by the hon’ble minister, I would like to differ slightly, it is not ten, it is one person dying every six seconds because of the tobacco usage.

And Sir, if this process continues, I am sure by 2020, 13 per cent of total deaths will be because of tobacco usage. Sir, can you imagine how many cigarettes are sold in a year 2016? It is not less than 85 billion.

Somebody was discussing about the tobacco industry. Yes, ITC constitutes 77 per cent, Godfrey Philips 9 per cent, GST 8 per cent, Philips Morris International 3 per cent and one company from Japan 2 per cent. Sir, as we know there is an existing COTPA Act 2003 (Cigarette and Other Tobacco Product Act). India was a part of WHO Convention in 2005. Sir, what does it provide? Smokefree place. In COTPA 4. there is a provision that there must be a smoking room in a hotel having more than 30 rooms. I strongly suggest that this must be reconsidered, Sir.

Sir, regarding tobacco addressing promotion and sponsorships, there is a provision of Clause 5(1) of COTPA that should be followed properly. Tobacco packaging, as you know that 85 per cent of the front and back cover of any cigarette packet must contain a disclosure. There is a restriction of 100 yards from any educational and health institutions, which should be absolutely tobacco free zone. This is hardly maintained in most of the country, Sir. Sir, there is a provision to take action against the companies according to Clause 26 of COTPA, which is not properly done.

Sir, my suggestion will be, as it has been done in our State of West Bengal, by our Hon’ble Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, this November, according to the Food Safety and Regulation Prohibition Act, 2011. We can allow any harmful product to be banned. Likewise in our State of West Bengal, the gutkha products have been banned.

Let us take note, then in the coming days we will make our India absolutely tobacco-free because the amount spent by the government to treat the tobacco-affected patients is even much more than the amount earned by the government as a revenue by selling tobacco.

Thank you, Sir.