A group of teachers and principals from schools across the nation have called for a fight against misinformation on new-age tobacco devices like e-cigarettes and e-hookahs to protect school-going children. The group called “Teachers Against Vaping”, in a letter to Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, has demanded the institutionalisation of communication programmes to raise awareness about the adverse effects of e-cigarettes in all forms and educate teachers, parents and children about the recent clarifications in law which ban manufacture, sale and even possession of these devices.
According to teachers, they are deeply concerned that international tobacco companies, driven by their pursuit of new markets, are disseminating misleading information that portrays new-age e-cigarettes as either harmless or less harmful in comparison to smoking traditional cigarettes. The alarming rise of e-cigarettes, including vaping devices and heat-not-burn tobacco products, has become a matter of grave concern, particularly when they involve school-going children in India. The allure of sleek latest technology-based vaping devices and misinformation that these products are less harmful is a big threat to our children, the letter said.
“We urgently require robust and proactive communication programs aimed at educating children, parents and educators about the detrimental health effects of these products,” said Upasana Mittal, principal of Raghav Global School, Sector 122, Noida. DPS Gautam Budh Nagar principal Supriti Chauhan believes that addiction to vaping and electronic nicotine delivery devices is a scourge with far-reaching implications for our children.
“This issue extends beyond health concerns and significantly impacts the educational environment in our schools. Despite the ban on e-cigarettes and vaping devices in our country, the misinformation being spread that they are less harmful is troubling, as it manipulates the vulnerability among school-going children. We need to urgently address this issue to not only safeguard the health of our children but also to protect their educational journey,” she said. E-cigarettes were banned in India under the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Act, which came into force in 2019. The ban was imposed on the production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement of e-cigarette These companies are aggressively marketing products like vaping, heat-not-burn devices and e-hookahs in India, another principal said. “Schools have become the hunting ground for these marketers who are using below-the-radar methods to popularise such products in a systematic manner beginning with favoured options and gradually leading the users to graduate to higher levels of substances and spreading misinformation,” the principal said.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)