India bans sale of e-cigarettes in wake of 'epidemic'

Cheryl Sanders
September 20, 2019

The promulgation of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Ordinance, 2019, would ban the production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution and advertisement of e-cigarettes, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, adding that it could be passed into law in the upcoming winter session of Parliament. "Definitely this is a welcome move".

India has announced a ban on electronic cigarettes, as a backlash gathers pace worldwide about a technology promoted as less harmful than smoking tobacco.

India isn't the only country that is considering banning e-cigarette products.

In the USA, where the potential health risks of e-cigarettes are in the spotlight, there have been 450 reported cases of lung illness exhausted to vaping this year. They have been pushed by producers, and also by some governments, including in Europe, as a safer alternative to cigarette smoking - and as a way to kick the habit.

Stating that the odourless nature of e-cigarettes is attracting the youth to pick up the device, Nirmala maintained that the Union government had chose to ban e-cigarettes in order to "avoid risking the health of the youth". As per the ICMR recent paper, it was noted that e-cigarettes and other such devices contained not only nicotine solution, which was highly addictive, but also harmful ingredients such as flavoring agents and vaporisers. With e- cigarettes, it was being seen that this new industry was picking up fast here.

Also, while single possession will not be prosecuted, bulk storage of e-cigarettes shall be punishable with imprisonment up to six months or a fine up to Rs 50,000 or both. She condemned the use of e-cigarettes as "style statement" and as tools for "looking cool" by the youth.

While health experts have welcomed the ban.

The Association of Vapers India (AVI), an organisation that represents e-cigarette users across the country, said it is a black day for 11 crore smokers in India who have been deprived of safer options.

AVI said it will explore legal options to challenge the ordinance. It deprives a quitter of nicotine free life despite quitting cigarettes successfully.

The official rejected the argument that the government is pro-tobacco industry.

"We do not have sufficient research to understand the long-term health effects of e cigarettes".

"The major difference between conventional and e-cigarettes is that the latter do not contain tobacco".

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