The union health ministry has asked the websites to immediately cease all advertisements and sales of e-cigarettes
Six more websites are under the lens, while the ministry is also monitoring advertising and sales of e-cigarettes on social media platforms and might issue them notices soon
The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage, and Advertisement) Act came into effect in 2019
In a crackdown on sales of electronic cigarettes, the union health ministry has reportedly sent notices to 15 websites selling e-cigarettes, which are banned in the country.
The websites have been asked to immediately cease all advertisements and sales of e-cigarettes, news agency PTI reported.
Citing official sources, the report said that six more websites are under the lens, while the ministry is also monitoring advertising and sale of e-cigarettes on social media platforms and might issue them notices soon.
The report said that out of the 15 websites which have been sent notices, four have stopped operations while the remaining ones are yet to respond.
The health ministry will write to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to take down the websites if they fail to respond to the notice.
It must be noted that the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage, and Advertisement) Act came into effect in 2019.
This is not the first time that the health ministry has acted on sales of e-cigarettes. In February this year, the ministry wrote to all states and Union Territories, highlighting concerns over the availability of e-cigarettes through local vendors.
In the letter addressed to chief secretaries, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan highlighted instances of e-cigarettes being sold at convenience or stationery stores near educational institutions, making these products easily accessible to children.
To ensure stricter implementation of the Act, the health ministry also issued a public notice in May. It directed producers, manufacturers, importers, exporters, distributors, advertisers, transporters, social media websites, and online shopping platforms to refrain from producing, procuring, or selling e-cigarettes directly or indirectly.
While the government’s decision to ban e-cigarettes was met with opposition, the Centre refused to change its stance. However, e-cigarettes continue to be sold in the country. It remains to be seen if the health ministry’s latest actions bring any change.