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National Medical Commission Issues Directive on E-Cigarette and HTP Research

New Delhi: The National Medical Commission (NMC) has issued a directive to all healthcare professionals affiliated with the NMC to refrain from participating in any research activities related to e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) without obtaining the necessary approvals from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). The directive comes in the wake of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement) Act, 2019 (PECA, 2019), which unequivocally banned the use of e-cigarettes, HTPs and like devices in India.

The decision was taken after Dr. Atul Goel, Director General of Health Services, wrote a letter to NMC chairman, Dr. BN Gangadhar, requesting him to address the matter concerning healthcare professional’s engagement in research related to electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and heated tobacco products (HTPs). Dr. Goel’s letter states, “As you are aware, the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage, and Advertisement) Act,20l9 (PECA 2019), has unequivocally banned the use of e-cigarettes, HTPs and like devices in India. In light of this, it is imperative that all healthcare professionals affiliated with the National Medical Commission (NMC) and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) refrain from initiating or participating in any research activities related to e-cigarettes and HTPs without obtaining the necessary approvals from the Dte.GHS and MoHFW.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also urged governments to treat e-cigarettes similarly to tobacco and ban all flavors. This global perspective reinforces the actions being taken in India.The NMC and IMA are expected to play a pivotal role in disseminating this directive among their members, emphasizing the gravity of adherence to the ban on e-cigarettes and HTPs, and promoting responsible research within the healthcare community.