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Posted at: Sep 19, 2019, 7:00 AM; last updated: Sep 19, 2019, 11:29 AM (IST)

India bans e-cigarettes, e-hookahs; 31st to do so

Ordinance promulgated after evidence of growing malignancies and seven deaths in the US

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 18

India today became the 31st country to ban electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), popularly known as e-cigarettes and e-hookahs.

The government promulgated the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes and ENDS (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Ordinance 2019 to outlaw the sale, marketing and use of e-cigarettes and eight other forms of ENDS products, online platforms included. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who chaired a group of ministers (GoM) meeting on subject announced the ban after the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the ordinance today. She cited US data on ENDS to say, “e-cigarettes were originally approved as weaning mechanisms to cigarettes but being easy to use these have come to be seen as cool and are now leading causes of nicotine addiction among children. Several models are available in the market and none are produced in India. ENDS are available in over 150 flavours, including chocolate and strawberry, and vape inhaled by ENDS users leaves high levels of residual nicotine not just in users but also in people standing around. The Cabinet has approved banning e-cigarettes and all nine forms of ENDS.”

The Ordinance makes all offences, except storage of ENDS products, in India cognisable. The first offence will be punishable with imprisonment up to a year or fine up to Rs 1 lakh or both. Subsequent offences will be punishable with imprisonment up to three years and fine up to Rs five lakh or both. 

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said, “Storage of e-cigarettes and like devices shall be punishable with an imprisonment of up to six months or fine up to Rs 50,000 or both. This will protect people from gateway products and will cut tobacco consumption.”

Health Secretary Preeti Sudan later explained that India never recognised ENDS as harm reduction devices or safe alternatives to cigarettes. “Domestic tobacco surveys have shown that cigarette use in India is on the decline. Our research body ICMR has recommended a ban on ENDS and we have enough data to ban ENDS,” she said, adding that all e hookah bars will become illegal with the ban.

Between 2017 - 2018, the US reported 78 pc rise in the use of ENDS devices by high school students with data showing one in every five high school and one in every 20 middle school students using ENDS. “The ordinance will prevent a new class of nicotine addiction in India. We are proud we could do it,” Sudan said. “It will save lives”.

The US has already reported seven deaths from ENDS use. In India there is no formal survey on the extent of ENDS use but the ICMR has submitted medical evidence to support the ban. Also IMA, Tata Memorial Cancer Institute and Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute had earlier asked the government to ban ENDS.

END OF ROAD

  • ENDS are battery-powered devices used to smoke or 'vape' a flavoured solution containing varying concentrations of nicotine, an addictive chemical found in cigarettes and other forms of tobacco products
  • ENDS are made in a way as to resemble conventional tobacco products like cigarettes, pipes and cigars
  • 460 e-cigarette brands with varied configuration of nicotine delivery available

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