- E-cigarette emits vaporized nicotine or non-nicotine solutions instead of smoke.
- First-time offenders would face a prison term of up to one year and a fine of ₹ 100,000
- The govt’s plans would deal a blow to US-based Juul Labs Inc, which is hoping to launch its e-cigarette in India
A nationwide ban on e-cigarette or electronic nicotine distribution systems (ENDS) has allegedly been proposed by the Ministry of Health with a prison sentence and severe financial penalties for offenders.
The ministry has proposed that the government issue an executive order prohibiting the equipment in the public interest, stating it was necessary to guarantee that e-cigarettes do not become an “epidemic” among kids and young adults.
E-cigarettes and the similar technologies that encourage tobacco use or adversely impact public health are hazardous for an active as well as passive user,” the health ministry said in an internal note seen by Reuters that the federal cabinet is expected to consider.
Health officials are proposing jail terms of up to three years, with a penalty of up to ₹ 5 lakh ($7,000), for repeat offenders against the new rules, according to a draft of the executive order.
Typically, such orders are given as an emergency measure in India when there is no parliament in session. It may lapse if it is not authorized when lawmakers meet in the next meeting, most probably to take place around November. It was not clear whether the draft executive order will face immediate changes, or when it will be approved.
There is evidence that these products are a gateway to tobacco products and lead to the use of nicotine by adolescents and young adults leading to addiction,” supposedly added the health ministry.
How is an E-cigarette different from a traditional one:
ENDS is used to define different kinds of e-cigarettes and vapes, some of which are based on ‘heat, not burn’ in which tobacco or nicotine alternatives are heated to temperatures below cigarettes.
In at least several Indian states, including Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Jharkhand, electronic cigarettes or ENDS are already prohibited. These state bans were introduced in compliance with the ministry’s advisory calling on governments to ban the production, distribution and internet sale of ENDS and other products under the 1940 Drugs and Cosmetics Act. However, the state ban was stayed in Delhi, because of the Delhi High Court order which said the products do not fall within the definition of a ‘drug’ under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940.
India and the E-cigarettes market
In India, brands such as Juul, Alt Vapors, Renova and Eon from ITC are the famous e-cigarette manufacturers, while on the market there are plenty of non-brand China-made e-cigarettes and devices. Some Chinese brands have begun selling vapes online for INR 300, leading to one of ENDS’ greatest criticisms, as there is no regulation and anyone can begin selling e-cigarettes without any security controls. High acceptance among school and college pupils has seen these cheaper Chinese options, who can readily access these products through internet locations.