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Why India’s e-cigarette ban is more harmful than beneficial

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India has gone far further than the US and outright banned the substance, despite having no additional restrictions on conventional cigarettes, which have been shown to be several times more dangerous. Under the pretext of preventing possible health threats to India’s youth, the government declared a full ban on e-cigarettes in September 2019. This ruling was passed as an ordinance without discussion or deliberation in the parliament, largely ignoring all proof of health threats and lessons learned from India’s previous disastrous experiences with similar policies.

In the absence of data and facts from India, it would be instructive to examine two policy approaches that have been implemented elsewhere in the world and draw relevant lessons for India’s next move.

Risk reduction and abstinence

The government may take one of two approaches when people participate in risky and dangerous behaviour (especially victimless activities): abstinence or harm reduction; prohibition or regulation. Abstinence entails adopting a paternalistic mindset, highlighting risky behaviour, and radically altering rewards to get people to stop. This can include prohibitions and harsh punishments for breaches, as well as the imposition of high sin taxes. In certain situations, where risk is clearly known, such as smoking or heavy drinking, this strategy can seem to be the best option.

However, as numerous examples demonstrate, this seldom works.

The alternative is to accept that certain individuals will still indulge in risky behaviour, and that the government has no influence over how people act. The goal, however, is to minimise the harm by offering less dangerous alternatives.

Regulating the amount of alcohol in beverages, supplying sex education and contraception to teens, and also mandating the use of condoms are examples of harm-reduction policies. The United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) approached ENDS, or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, in two very different ways, with very different outcomes. The United States has a tumultuous past of ENDS, with several policy reversals that have had disastrous effects in society. 

The United Kingdom, on the other hand, has promoted the use of ENDS as a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes. This is a tale of two opposing public policy proposals with important implications for India.

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Health

Tamil Nadu becomes the 1st state to have its own genome sequencing lab.

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Manasa Maddila, Mumbai Uncensored, 6th January 2021:

The whole-genome sequencing (WGS) laboratory of the State Public Health Laboratory (SPHL) has joined the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG).

Health Minister Ma. Subramanian said there could have been no other State in India that has set up a genome sequencing lab all alone.

In spite of the State having its own genome sequencing lab that was set up at an expense of 4 crores, and initiated on September 14, it was sending tests to labs in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Pune that are important for INSACOG for affirming the sequencing of the Omicron variation.

The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) has perceived Tamil Nadu’s State Public Health Laboratory to direct entire genome sequencing, which implies the state will don’t really need to send tests to labs in Pune, Bengaluru, or Hyderabad to affirm variations, like Delta and Omicron.

Ma Subramanian remarked, “The state’s public health lab at the Directorate of Medical and Rural Health Services, which is overseen by CM MK Stalin, has set up equipment worth Rs 4 crore for this purpose”.

A senior authority of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine said that around 150 samples can be tried at the same time at the lab and requires no less than five days to get the outcome.

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Delhi And Mumbai See Spike In Covid Cases; Yellow Alert Issued in national capital

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Aditya Dwivedi, Mumbai Uncensored, 29th December 2021:

The highest COVID-19 cases recorded in the last 6 months have shocked the nation and the authorities. India’s overall tally of COVID-19 cases saw a tremendous increase by 44% from Tuesday with 9,195 cases.

Delhi tops the list with 238 fresh cases of the highly transmissible Covid-19 variant Omicron and the positivity rate rose to 0.89 on December 29th. As a result, a Yellow Alert has been issued in Delhi for the prevention of the further spread of the virus in the region. 

During the briefing, CM Kejriwal said, “As the COVID-19 positivity rate has been above 0.5 percent for the past few days, we are enforcing Level-I (Yellow alert) of the Graded Response Action Plan. 

He added “In the past few days, the number of cases in the capital city and the country is rising. One needs to not worry but exercise caution. Our government is well prepared. The cases reported are mild. Everyone needs to make sure to wear masks and ensure proper social distancing”

Schools, colleges, theatres, entertainment parks, spas, and gyms have been closed till further orders. Public transports, restaurants (can only operate between 8 am-10 pm) are advised to function with 50% of the total capacity while taking proper measures to avoid the spread of the virus. 

The timing of the night curfew has also been changed from ’11 pm-5 am’ to ’10 pm-5 am’. 

A complete halt on social, political, religious, and entertainment gatherings has been imposed by the government.

Gathering in weddings and funerals has been limited to only 20 people while the banquet halls are not allowed to host weddings or any function and remain shut till further orders. Grade-1 officers in the Delhi Government offices will be required to be present with 100% capacity. Meanwhile, the private firms are advised to call 50% of the staff between 9 am-5 pm.

Mumbai sees a sudden surge in covid 19 cases with 1,333 cases on Tuesday, the highest since last 7 months. Government officials expressed their concerns over the issue and gave an indication of imposing stricter restrictions if the cases continue to rise.

Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Aaditya Thackeray stated, “Last week we were reporting 150 cases per day, now we are reporting around 2000 cases per day. Mumbai may cross 2000 per day cases today”

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China enrolls 1st human fatality due to Monkey B infection

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Manasa Maddila, Mumbai Uncensored, 27th July 2021:

A Beijing-based vet, who was declared as China’s first human contamination case with Monkey B Virus (BV), has kicked the bucket from the infection. However, his nearby contacts are protected from it, for the present, Global Times announced. 

The 53-year-old male worked for an organisation exploring non-human primates. He started showing side effects of queasiness and heaving, a month after he examined two dead monkeys in the beginning of March. The vet looked for treatments in several hospitals, but eventually died on May 27.  Reports conducted by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said that there were no deadly or even clinically obvious BV contaminations in China earlier. Experts had gathered the cerebrospinal liquid of the veterinarian in April and distinguished him as positive for BV, yet tests of his nearby contacts came out negative.

The virus first broke out in 1932, is an alphaherpesvirus enzootic in macaques of the genus Macaca. It very well may be sent through direct contact and trade of real discharges; it also has a casualty pace of 70-80 percent.  Studies suggested that BV in monkeys may represent a possible danger to Laboratory workers and veterinarians since they are exposed to monkeys occasionally; it is important to wipe out BV during the advancement of explicit microorganism free rhesus settlements and to fortify observation in research centers that work with macaques in China.

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