The Leaflet

| @theleaflet_in | September 19,2019

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]OON after the Union Cabinet approved the ordinance to ban electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), popularly known as e-cigarettes and e-hookahs, President Ram Nath Kovind has approved the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Ordinance, 2019.

The announcement by India on Wednesday came a day after New York became the second US state to ban flavoured e-cigarettes following a string of vaping-linked deaths.

Unlike combustible cigarettes and hookahs, ENDS, which are not licensed in India, do not burn tobacco but use a heating element to vaporise liquid nicotine, which the user inhales. “The main constituents of the solution, in addition to nicotine when nicotine is present, are propylene glycol, with or without glycerol and flavouring agents,” the World Health Organisation says, adding that these solutions and emissions also contain some solutions that are considered to be “toxicants”.

With this ordinance in force, any production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale (including online sale), distribution or advertisement (including online advertisement) of ENDS will become a cognizable offence punishable with an imprisonment of up to one year or fine up to Rs. 1 lakh or both for the first offence; and imprisonment of up to three years and fine up to Rs. 5 lakh for a subsequent offence.

Storage of the ENDS shall also be punishable with an imprisonment up to 6 months or fine up to Rs 50,000 or both.

Further, the Ordinance mandates that the owners of existing stocks of ENDS on the date of commencement of the ordinance will have to suo-moto declare and deposit these stocks with the nearest police station.

A Sub-Inspector of Police has been designated as the Authorized Officer to take action under the Ordinance. The Central or State Governments may also designate any other equivalent officer(s) as Authorized Officer for enforcement of the provisions of the Ordinance.

As per the press released issued by the Press Information Bureau (PIB), the decision to prohibit e-cigarettes will help protect population, especially the youth and children, from the risk of addiction through E-cigarettes.   Enforcement of the Ordinance will complement government’s efforts for tobacco control and will help in reduction of tobacco use and reduction in associated economic and disease burden.

It also added “the current decision has come on the back of an advisory issued by the Government in 2018 to all States to consider banning e-cigarettes. 16 States and 1 UT have already banned e cigarettes in their jurisdictions.

Notably, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in a recent white paper on the subject, also recommended a complete ban on e-cigarettes based on currently available scientific evidence. The WHO has also urged member countries to take appropriate steps including prohibiting these products.

These products are usually marketed as being safer alternatives for conventional cigarettes but such notions of safety are false. On the other hand, available literature suggests that these products may act as gateway products to induce non-smokers, especially youth and adolescents, to nicotine-use, leading to addiction and subsequent use of conventional tobacco products. E-cigarettes are usually promoted by the industry as smoking cessation aids but their efficacy and safety as a quitting aid has not yet been established”.

“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,” 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 on Wednesday.

However, questions are being asked over Twitter as to why the government was not considering a blanket ban on real tobacco. In 2018, according to a fact sheet by the World Health Organization, India had nearly 27 crore tobacco users and a “substantial” number of people exposed to second-hand smoke, putting them at an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. Tobacco kills over 1 million people each year, contributing to 9.5 per cent of all deaths, it said.

Shares of cigarette makers have experienced a surge after the Union Cabinet approved banning e-cigarettes, LiveMint reported. “Shares of ITC Ltd rose 1.8%, Godfrey Phillips India Ltd soared 7.8%, VST Industries Ltd gained 1% and Golden Tobacco Ltd climbed 4.5% .”

 

Read the ordinance here:

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