Regulating Shisha/ waterpipe smoking & E-cigarettes by regulating nicotine as poison: a success story from India
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Tobacco Free India Coalition / Burning Brain Society, India
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A43
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Background and challenges to implementation:
In many jurisdictions across the world, Shisha smoking and E-Cigarettes are not regulated under the tobacco control legislation. Shisha and E-Cigarettes contain Nicotine as one of the chemical ingredient. Nicotine, in itself is a highly poisonous chemical. Even 30 mg of Nicotine can be fatal. In 2007, when Chandigarh, a city in north India with a population of over a million, was being declared smoke-free, it was realized that there were no laws in place to prevent use of non-tobacco Nicotine based Shisha and E-Cigarettes. The author, through CSO “Burning Brain Society,” filed a Writ-Petition in the High Court for shutting down all Shisha outlets, and use of Nicotine - a Poison.

Intervention or response:
The Public Interest Litigation, CWP 14597/2007 in the High Court was contested for six years by the State, Tobacco Companies and Shisha Bar owners. The author argued that even "The Insecticide Act" in India categorized Nicotine as an insecticide and the "Hazardous Chemical Rules" also label Nicotine as a hazardous and toxic chemical, thereby Nicotine must be treated as Poison. In 2012, the High Court passed judgement in favour and accepted that Nicotine was Poison and its use deserves penal action.

Results and lessons learnt:
The Court passed a favourable order in November 2012, accepting Nicotine as a poisonous substance. Since then more than 232 criminal cases have been registered. A permanent task force to monitor use of Nicotine was also constituted. It took another 5 years for many other States of India to notify Nicotine as poison under the poisons Act.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
By using an innovative strategy, the use of Shisha and E-Cigarettes was put to an end. It also resulted in a cascaded effect and many jurisdiction in India have now put Nicotine in the list of Poison. This strategy has the potential of being used as the End-Game strategy.

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