To mark their win in the battle against smoking, over 40 million vapers from across the globe will come together on Saturday to celebrate World Vape Day.
In India, the representative body of e-cigarette users, the Association of Vapers India (AVI), will hold a number of virtual campaigns to speak up against the ban imposed by the central government late last year.
The World Vape Day celebration will see a global social media drive where AVI along with consumer advocacy orgsations from 34 nations will spread awareness on the harm reduction potential of vaping and its effectiveness in helping smokers quit.
Citing numerous international studies and research that vaping is much less harmful than smoking, the vapers' body has been demanding that the e-cigarette sale ban in India be rescinded so that the country's 100 million smokers can have access to an effective means to quit.
"Banning a less harmful alternative to smoking protects the cigarette industry, in which the Indian government continues to hold a major share. How can we claim economic progress if we are still dependent on tobacco for revenues and taxes at the cost of the health of our people? Risk reduction is a right no Indian should be denied," AVI Director Samrat Chowdhery said.
Nearly a million people die every year in India due to smoking, with the country's tobacco crisis costing the economy USD 22 billion (Rs 1 lakh crore) per annum from mortality and morbidity losses.
"Vaping is increasingly being framed in industry terms, but the real story is about the people, the smokers whom it helped in quitting a deadly habit and leading better lives. We want to tell our stories of struggle and success to the world and highlight that there is a human cost to denying people a safer alternative," said Dhaval Gogate, an AVI board member, while talking about the reasons for celebrating World Vape Day.
Gogate pointed to studies that show e-cigarettes are 95 per cent less harmful than combustible cigarettes and have proved to be beneficial in reducing health inequalities caused due to smoking. E-cigarettes also don't come with the harms associated with secondhand smoking, which kills 850,000 people each year, he said.
On May 30, AVI will orgse a live stream where vapers will tell their success stories, along with twitter and email campaigns to sensitise lawmakers, media and the general public on the health and human aspects of vaping. Globally, social media campaigns and online rallies will focus on awareness and pushing back against misinformation.
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( With inputs from ANI )