The Indian government’s decision to ban ecigarettes has been challenged in a court in Kolkata. The case will be heard on October 4, followed by another hearing on October 7.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced on September 18 that ecigarettes have been banned in India “with immediate effect”. The government had cited the uncertain health risks and increasing use of vapes, ecigarettes and ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) by minors as reasons for the ban.
The blanket ban included production, manufacturing, import/export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising of such products.
The Indian government had been weighing the option to ban all such products for quite some time. Last year in August, India’s health ministry had asked states to ensure nicotine devices are banned from being sold online, manufactured or even marketed in the country.
Since then, the Indian law enforcement and customs department have been cracking down on ENDS crossing the border. In March the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation issued a similar notice to halt sales and marketing of nicotine devices.
The government had also proposed banning all ENDS under the Prohibition of E-cigarettes Ordinance, 2019. The document 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 ecigarettes with a penalty of INR 1 Lakh against first-time violators.
In late August, the ministry of health had proposed a prison sentence under an executive order to ban the production and import of electronic cigarettes. In its opinion, the ministry needed to ensure ecigarettes do not become an epidemic among minors and young adults. The ministry had also proposed a prison sentence of up to three years and a further penalty of up to INR 5 Lakh for repeat offenders.
In May, the health ministry issued a circular urging other departments to hold off on publishing any studies or reports on the e-cigarette market as the department did not want to dilute its stance due to any report.