On Wednesday, the government banned the sale, production, import, export, transportation and consumption of e-cigarettes which are also known as vapes. The government took the route of an ordinance for this ban and has made it a punishable offence by one to three years of jail term and Rs one to five lakh fine or both. The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and I&B Minister Prakash Javdekar said that smoking e-cigarettes pose risks to health due to the nicotine and presence of chemical ingredients in it.
The ordinance prohibits the storage of any stock of e-cigarettes and states that any existing stock will have to be disposed of from the date of promulgation of the ordinance. The ordinance will come into full force once the President approves it. Post that, it will be converted into a bill, becoming law by the next parliament session.
When asked about the widespread consumption of tobacco, Javdekar said that several measures are being taken to tackle smoking in public places and in office areas. Ban on e-cigarettes is the first-of-its-kind measure to tackle the upcoming menace which is proving to be a problem and cause of addiction among youth.
Sitharaman, who headed the group of ministers on the issue said that the cabinet's decision to ban e-cigarettes came from the fact that these products are proving to be hazardous to the health of people, especially youth.
The government's decision is backed by recommendations from several expert groups, public health advocates and research organisations. The Indian Council of Medical Research and the ministry's expert committee with representatives from AIIMS and the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research strongly backed the decision. The suggestions were also made by the government's top drug advisory body in June.
18 states and 2 UTs have already banned the consumption and sale of vapes. Due to the lack of central law, its enforcement has been weak till now but it is going to change. Even though the government says that e-cigarettes cause severe health risks, smoking normal cigarettes has resulted in 10 million deaths every year in India according to a 9-year old report whereas there have been 7 deaths in total due of vaping or e-cigarettes.