Israr Hasan for DOT :  Smoking is a common habit here in Bangladesh, affecting everyone from teenagers to senior citizens. In order to reduce the harm caused by cigarettes, many young people are shifting to e-cigarettes or vapes, credited as one of the most effective quit smoking tools we’ve seen. E-cigarettes are available everywhere in Bangladesh from small street corner shops to e-commerce sites as they grow in high demand.
 That said, the Bangladesh government has recently stated that it is working to stop the production and consumption of e-cigarettes in the country. This proposal would be disastrous for adult consumers who want a less risky alternative. Bangladesh is thus set to follow India’s example, which last year banned e-cigarettes in response to what they had called an “epidemic”. This coincides with the goal of making the country tobacco-free by 2040, which to the outside eye appears to be more of an emergency than a grand vision.
 Once again, here we see the government meddling in a way that is harmful to consumers. Vaping is seen as the best alternative because it generally acts as a legitimate quitting tool and is significantly less harmful than conventional cigarettes to consumers.
 Vapes do not require fire that needs to be lit and hence, no combustion takes place. Consequently, there is no smoke, tar, carbon monoxide, and no risk of passive smoking is associated with it making it environmentally friendly, as third parties are not affected.
 In Bangladesh, there seems to be a severe lack of information on vaping, but plenty of misinformation. As in many cases, it is better to leave consumers to choose their own method of quitting tobacco rather than having a top-down decision.
 Allowing the use of vapes as a less harmful alternative can help large numbers of smokers quit. Vaping can help Bangladesh achieve its vision of becoming tobacco-free by 2040, but there should be an organic framework where market forces do the work rather than constant governmental instructions.
Israr Hasan is a policy fellow at the Consumer Choice Center
Originally published here.