Centre bans cigarettes and hookahs in India, imposes fines upto Rs 5 lakh
New Delhi: The Cabinet today on Wednesday took a decision to ban electronic cigarettes in India. Also known as Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), these devices gained widespread popularity among youngsters in the country. The announcement in this regard was made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman representing the government of India.
The ban will be extended to other electronic nicotine delivery devices such as e-hookahs. According to the newly-imposed ban, the production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale, distribution or advertisement of e-cigarettes will be considered a cognisable offence.
In fact, not just users, but also those who are caught engaging in either the manufacturing or storage will be faced with heavy fines. While the first offence will carry a fine of ₹1 lakh or imprisonment of up to one year or both, the second offence will lead to a fine as high as ₹5 lakh and imprisonment of up to three years or both.
Speaking on behalf of the government and the Ministry of Health, Secretary Health and Family Welfare Preeti Sudan said that the decision has been taken keeping in mind the emerging international evidence in regard to these electronic cigarettes. She added that a comprehensive paper was drafted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in accordance with the ministry. As a result of the efforts, the ministry recommended a ban on e-cigarettes and e-hookahs by citing a white paper. “The decision has gone through technical advisory committees,” added Sudan.
The white paper in question was released in May 2019 by the ICMR. It stated that ENDS contain not only highly addictive nicotine solution but also other dangerous substances such as flavouring agents and vaporisers. Apart from listing the harmful effects of ENDS products, the white paper also claimed that these products can act as a gateway for tobacco addiction. However, several experts have pointed out how the ICMR white paper has conveniently overlooked the fact that cigarettes are far more dangerous and addictive than e-cigarettes or for that matter, e-hookahs.
As soon as the ban comes into effect, those who are in possession of e-cigarette stocks will have to declare the same and deposit their stocks with the nearest police station. It has also been stated that sub-inspectors have been authorised to search and seize stocks in order to ensure effective implementation of this ban. In addition, the Centre and respective state government will have the power to appoint other officers who will be able to search and seize stocks of ENDS products.