The value of the country’s largest cigarette manufacturer jumped after the Indian health ministry advised state health departments to ban vapor products Tuesday. The central government of India owns one-third of ITC Ltd., formerly known as India Tobacco Company.
Clearly, tobacco investors approve of the government’s move to eliminate the disruptive threat e-cigarettes pose to the established cigarette market. ITC’s stock price leaped more than two percent the day after the announcement, according to the Economic Times. The financial health of tobacco companies in the U.S. and Europe has been challenged recently by the rise of vaping.
ITC is the largest seller of cigarettes in India, with an 80 percent share of the massive Indian market. And the Indian government owns a 32 percent share of ITC, which makes the health ministry that wants vaping banned a partner with the cigarette manufacturer. There are 120 million Indian smokers, and a million of them die annually from tobacco-related disease.
On Wednesday, the vaping advocacy group Association of Vapers India (AVI) published a detailed rebuttal of the science the Indian government used to justify its call for prohibition. Over and over, the vape advocates point to the hypocrisy of banning vaping when cigarette smoking is known to be far more dangerous.
“Because of the sheer health burden of smoking in the country – a million deaths, lack of public healthcare and annual economic loss of over Rs 1 lakh crore [$14 billion U.S.] – the government should have aggressively backed prevention measures and encouraged an alternative even if it was 10% safer,” says the AVI statement.
“It is therefore acutely dismaying that it has chosen to prohibit vaping, for which there is evidence from major health bodies of being 95% safer than smoking.”
AVI says it will go to court to stop the ban, if necessary. The consumer advocates have previously challenged state bans in court. Like all vape advocacy groups, AVI is undermanned and underfunded. The organization depends on donations from supporters to keep fighting.