Less than two weeks after the central government announced the ban on e-cigarettes in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on September 29, defended the ban by saying that the sale of e-cigarettes was prohibited to prevent the youth from falling into the new way of intoxication.
Addressing the public on his monthly radio talk show, Mann Ki Baat, PM Modi said that a “myth” has been spread that e-cigarettes pose no danger. “Like the conventional cigarette, it does not spread odour as fragrant chemicals are added to it. These chemicals are harmful and pose a health hazard. do not harbour any misconceptions about e-cigarettes,” the prime minister added.
Modi said that discourses and debates will continue, the support and opposition will continue, but, if some things are checked before they proliferate, then there is a huge benefit.
“…e-cigarette has been banned so that this new form of intoxication does not destroy our demographically young country. It does not trample the dreams of a family and waste the lives of our children. This scourge and this obnoxious habit should not become rooted in our society,” PM Modi said.
He further emphasised that, “There is no confusion about dangers posed by a cigarette. The smoker and the seller know the harm it causes. But the case of e-cigarettes is different. There is little awareness among people. Sometimes e-cigarettes sneak into the house out of sheer curiosity.”
The Indian government had been weighing the option to ban all such products for quite some time. On September 18, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the ban on e-cigarettes.
Blaming uncertain health risks and the increasing use of vapes, e-cigarettes and ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems), Sitharaman said India is banning any operations based around e-cigarettes. This includes “production, manufacturing, import/export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes” Sitharaman said at a press conference.
The Indian government had proposed banning ENDS under the Prohibition of E-cigarettes Ordinance, 2019, which was recently reviewed by ministers following directions from the Prime Minister’s Office. The draft had proposed a one year prison sentence for use, sale or promotion of e-cigarettes with a penalty of INR 1 Lakh against first-time violators.
In March 2019, at least 13 states in India including Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Jharkhand banned the use of ENDS.
One of the biggest criticisms of ENDS is its high adoption among school and college students, who can easily get access to these products through online sites. The range of ecigarettes and vapes vary from INR 300 for some chinese brands upto INR 7000, according to TRENDS members.
The ban has already been challenged in court in Kolkata. The case will be heard on October 4, followed by another hearing on October 7.