With the central government banning production, import, sale and distribution of ecigarettes and similar products last month, citing health risks, there’s been much consternation among ecigarette traders and startups working in electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). As part of its recent appeal calling for regulation instead of a ban, the Trade Representatives of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (TRENDS) has sought the intervention of state governments into the matter.
The body reiterated that ecigarettes could be a cessation solution for smokers who want to go for a lesser harmful option and the state which can gain from lower health costs and better mortality rates. The traders body has asked the states to conduct independent studies, evaluate the effects of ecigarettes and arrive at a rational decision.
TRENDS has written to all chief ministers regarding the ban on ENDS. “Health is a state matter. The state health departments should seek the centre’s nod for conducting a study and taking independent decision on the use of ecigarettes. We have written to the chief ministers in this regard and are expecting responses from at least the non-BJP states,” TRENDS convener Praveen Rikhy reportedly told ET.
Indian Government’s Reason For The Ecigarette Ban
In March this year, when sale of ecigarettes in at least 12 Indian states was banned, TRENDS urged the government to introduce regulations on the ENDS industry, instead of a hard ban. The lobbying group said that any such ban was bound to result in the creation of a black market for ENDS products. It instead asked for taxes and statutory warnings on ENDS products, specific regulations on the permitted nicotine strength and size of liquid bottles, and safety standards certification of distributors.
However, the government claimed that ecigarettes, originally meant as cessation tools, have instead made many young citizens take up smoking. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Ecigarettes were promoted as a way to get people out of their smoking habits but reports have shown that many people are not using it as weaning mechanism but are rather addicted to it.”
“These novel products come with attractive appearances and multiple flavours and their use has increased exponentially and has acquired epidemic proportions in developed countries, especially among youth and children.” the government said in a statement.
Ban On Ecigarettes: The Global Take?
More than 20 countries have banned the sale of ecigarette products till date, including countries in South America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Countries such as Australia, Canada and Norway have introduced various restrictions.
Thailand has banned the sale and use of ecigarettes since 2014. The country claimed that electronic cigarettes were luring young people into smoking. Being one of the most visited countries in the world, the use of ecigarettes, with or without nicotine, even by travelers could lead to a heavy fine, according to guidelines from its embassy.
Recently, the United States announced plans to remove flavored ecigarettes from stores, warning that sweet flavors had drawn millions of children into nicotine addiction. The administration said that it intends to clear the market of flavored ecigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth ecigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities.