E-cigarettes ban: production, manufacturing, trade to invite 3 year jail term and 5 lakh fine

New Delhi: Finance minister Nirmala Sitaraman made an announcement to ban e-cigarettes in a press conference on Wednesday in New Delhi citing serious health concerns, and an ordinance regarding this ban would be brought soon. This ordinance will be taken up by the Parliament in the next session. The e- hookahs are also come under this new ban.

This announcement landed a blow to e-cigarettes makers Juul and Philip Moris plan of expansion in India, however, conventional cigarettes makers companies shares rose with the decision. The ban will make production, manufacturing, import/export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes illegal and incur heavy punitive measures.

Widespread concerns across the world about e-cigarettes’ addictive and adverse effects on health and its growing appeal among youth and adolescents with many countries banning these items propelled the government to come up with this decision. Recently, US has proposed plans for a ban on flavored e-cigarettes after the death of 6 people to protect innocent children with New York banning it on 17 September. In addition to that e-cigarette making companies Juul and Philip Morris were touting this as better and healthier alternative to conventional product- a claim which many studies including ICMR on e-cigarettes have blown up completely.

E-cigarettes not only harmful to people using them but people who are around them are also at the risk of getting adverse effects as well as triggering addiction for nicotine among them. The finance minister Nirmala Sitaraman while mentioning the 900 per cent growth in the use of e-cigarettes between 2011 and 2015 in the US noted, “Even the middle school students have become victims of e-cigarettes.” She also said that people in India don’t mind trying it as a style statement and added, “ It was prompted initially to avoid the habit of cigarettes. But reports say that actually, many people are no longer using it to avoid cigarettes, and they do both. Some people are doing it because they think it’s cool.”

After this ban, anyone using e-cigarettes for the first time or first time offenders may attract punishment of jail term upto one year or a fine upto Rs 1 lakh or both. And repeat offenders may have to face jail term of upto 3 years or a fine of 5 lakh or both.

The recent ban came following a white paper released by ICMR on May 31 2019, in which it called for a complete ban on e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). ICMR mentioned the adverse effects which include harmful effects on cardiovascular system, impairment of respiratory immune cell function and airways in a way similar to cigarette smoking and causing severe respiratory disease. e-cigarettes also poses risk to foetus, infant and child brain development.

ICMR council also noted that e-cigarettes and other such devices contained not only nicotine solution, which was highly addictive, but harmful ingredients such as flavoring agents and vaporizers. It also rejected the argument that e-cigarettes could help smokers quit tobacco consumption and said, “ While such benefits have not been firmly established, there is also evidence that there is risk of people continuing to use both them as well as tobacco products. In addition, these devices could encourage non-smokers to get addicted to tobacco.”

ENDS or e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices used to smoke or ‘vape’, a flavored solution containing a varying concentration of nicotine. These also contain other ingredients as flavoring agents and vaporizers, which are also found to be harmful for health.

To put in the words of ICMR , “It adversely affects almost all the human body systems with impact….from womb to tomb”.

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