Bangladesh's goal of becoming a tobacco-free country by 2040 will be hindered if e-cigarettes are banned, experts said Thursday.
They were speaking at the webinar "Save Vaping, Save Bangladesh" organised by the Bangladesh-based Voices of Vapers.
The experts addressed the recent proposal to ban vape and other alternative and heat-not-burn tobacco products in a new amendment to the country's tobacco control legislation.
Dr Delon Human, president of Health Diplomats and an expert on harm reduction, said there is no evidence for the statement that nicotine in vapes are more harmful than cigarettes, as claimed by the National Tobacco Control Cell.
"There needs to be a credible harm reduction strategy as practised by many developed countries," he added.
"The authorities must consider regulating a safer alternative such as vape and make it accessible to smokers wanting to quit."
Schumann Zaman, president of Bangladesh Electronic Nicotine Delivery System Traders Association (BENDSTA), said not recognising vape traders and vape users as stakeholders will have major consequences as many of these vapers are using e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.
John Dunne, director general of the UK Vaping Industry Association, said vapes should be regulated separately because vapes and cigarettes are different products.
"In fact, vapes are far safer and a proven method of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Regulating vapes will help smokers who are trying to quit have access to vapes," he added.
"Countries such as the UK, France, New Zealand and Canada have successfully lowered smoking rates by using vaping as NRT. Banning vapes will lower the number of smokers trying to quit."