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Indian J Public Health. 2017 Sep;61(Supplement):S7-S11. doi: 10.4103/ijph.IJPH_240_17.

Getting real with the upcoming challenge of electronic nicotine delivery systems: The way forward for the South-East Asia region.

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Regional Advisor, Tobacco-Free Initiative, Regional Office for South-East Asia, World Health Organization, Faridabad, Haryana, India.
Freelance Public Health Consultant, Faridabad, Haryana, India.


Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are being marketed to tobacco smokers for use in places where smoking is not allowed or as aids similar to pharmaceutical nicotine products to help cigarette smokers quit tobacco use. These are often flavored to make them more attractive for youth - ENDS use may lead young nonsmokers to take up tobacco products. Neither safety nor efficacy as a cessation aid of ENDS has been scientifically demonstrated. The adverse health effects of secondhand aerosol cannot be ruled out. Weak regulation of these products might contribute to the expansion of the ENDS market - in which tobacco companies have a substantial stake - potentially renormalizing smoking habits and negating years of intense tobacco control campaigning. The current situation calls for galvanizing policy makers to gear up to this challenge in the Southeast Asia Region (SEAR) where the high burden of tobacco use is compounded by large proportion of young vulnerable population and limited established tobacco cessation facilities. Banning ENDS in the SEAR seems to be the most plausible approach at present. In the SEAR, Timor-Leste, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and Thailand have taken the lead in banning these products. The other countries of the SEAR should follow suit. The SEAR countries may, however, choose to revise their strategy if unbiased scientific evidence emerges about efficacy of ENDS as a tobacco cessation aid. ENDS industry must show true motivation and willingness to develop and test ENDS as effective pharmaceutical tools in the regional context before asking for market authorization.

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