Vaping devices used to inhale intoxicants are in the spotlight as suspects after a string of health failures in the US. Five vapers have lost their lives and nearly 450 serious cases of respiratory illness have been reported. Are vapes the culprit? Touted as an option safer than cigarettes, these gizmos have been in use for years, even sold as tobacco-quitting aids. Various studies back that claim.

Most of America’s recent cases, though, are not related to vaping per se, nor even to tobacco, but to the inhalation of THC. This is the psychoactive chemical found in cannabis, natural extracts of which contain other cannabinoids, such as CBD, seen to play a balancing neurological role. Pure THC, it turns out, could be highly perilous. By policy, India is against all vaping. E-cigarettes have been banned. Despite this, the country has a black market for vapes, as also a closet marijuana culture. Like weed smokers, vape users argue that it’s not as harmful as proclaimed. To clear the haze, we should take a close scientific look at the relative risks of all forms of smoking and the substances used, legal or illegal. Perhaps the findings will help deter smokers and recalibrate our policy.