New Delhi: Now, the users of e-cigarettes and e-hukahs can face penalties up to three-years jail term, or upto Rs 5 lakh fine or the both, for repeat offence as the government has announced a complete ban on these items with immediate effect following a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The government also said first-time offenders would face a prison term of up to one year and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. The proposed ban, promulgated through an ordinance, will make it illegal to manufacture, sell, transport, distribute, advertise, export or import e-cigarettes.
“The Union Cabinet has approved the Promulgation of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement) Ordi-nance, 2019 and e-cigarettes along with e-hukahs will be banned in India with immediate effect,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitha-raman said, adding that an ordinance will be passed on the same considering the seriousness of the impact of e-cigarettes on the people’s health.
“The Health Ministry in its draft ordinance had proposed a jail term of up to one year along with a penalty of Rs 1 lakh against first time violators. This can go up to imprisonment of three years or a fine up to Rs 5 lakh for subsequent violations,” she added.
Touted as a tool to combat tobacco addiction, electronic cigarettes and other vaping products pose the risk of children increasingly taking up smoking. “There has been a substantial increase in the number of young people, including school children, taking to e-cigarettes in the US and even in India; the youth is said to consider vaping as a style statement,” said Sitharaman.
It is, she said, alarming that there was over 78 per cent increase in the number of school children using e-cigarettes in the US. “There are nearly 3 million e-cigarette users in the US currently and in a manner of four to five years since 2011, there has been a 900 per cent growth in use of such electronic nicotine delivery systems, or ENDS products, one of the popular brands, bet-ween 2011 and 2016. The decision to prohibit its use would protect the population, particularly the youth and children from the risk of nicotine addiction through e-cigarettes,” she added.
According to media reports, on September 17, New York became the first state in the US to ban the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes following a surge of breathing illnesses linked to vaping nationally. As far as India is concerned, it has over 106 million adult smokers, second only to China in the world, making it a lucrative market for firms such as Juul and Philip Morris, the most popular ones.
It is learnt that more than 900,000 people die each year in India due to tobacco-related illnesses. Sixteen state governments have prohibited e-cigarettes but there is as yet no central legislation to deal with what the health ministry termed the ‘hazardous product’.
The Health Ministry also said e-cigarettes or similar products can also be used as delivery devices for other substances such as cannabis....