Hyderabad: Heated tobacco products that are being promoted as an alternative to conventional cigarettes are no less harmful than all other tobacco products, doctors have said.
Filtered cigarettes and light sticks are some forms of tobacco which are now being showcased as alternatives to regular cigarettes.
These new products are sleek in appearance and often look like pens. These are not e-cigarettes but vaporised tobacco sticks which one can take puffs of. These new marketing methods are being devised as globally the use of tobacco has reduced by 6 per cent due to constant health warnings.
Senior oncologist, Dr Vijay Anand Reddy, who has been campaigning for pictorial warnings on tobacco packs explained, “Any form of tobacco is carcinogenic. The new method of heated products does not mean that the chemicals in the products are reduced. Tobacco is harmful in whatever manner it is consumed.”
Tobacco related mortality in India is 13 lakh and globally 70 lakh people die every year due to intake of tobacco. The pictorial warnings are having an impact where the young are staying away from smoking.
A recent assessment of the pictorial warnings in India has found that new smokers have been deterred but chronic smokers do not pay any heed.
Senior oncologist at Apollo Hospitals, Dr T.S. Bhandari explained, “The pictorial warnings and also cases which are seen in families or the neighbourhood have made many new smokers think twice before taking up the habit.”
“Hence, there has been a general awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco. But production and manufacturing still continues which needs to be addressed. Due to this reason, we now have products of different types which are flooding the market,” the doctor added.
The new products are elitist and sold in high-end stores trying to create a niche market. Vice-president, Confederation of Medical Association of Asia, Dr K.K. Aggarwal explained, “There is no evidence to demonstrate that these new products are less harmful. We are presently in the stage where we need to go from the pictorial warning to helping mid-level and chronic smokers quit smoking. This is a major challenge as the temptation for minors and youngsters remains high. This needs to be addressed very strongly.”
Experts have started advocating that apart from cancer warnings, there must also be warnings of painful death due to use of tobacco....