The cabinet on Wednesday banned production and import of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), a step taken in the interest of public health.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a media briefing said that an ordinance will be passed to ban the products, which the government believes will advance tobacco control efforts in the country
According to reports, the government will take the bill to Prohibition of e-Cigarettes 2019 in the next Parliament session.
Sitharaman said e-cigarettes were becoming an increasing health risk as they were being used as a “style statement”, and not as a tobacco cessation product.
More than 900,000 people die each year in the country due to tobacco-related illnesses. But India has 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 ban will be imposed through an ordinance which is typically issued in India as an emergency measure when parliament is not in session. It can lapse if it is not approved in the Parliament.
The health ministry had proposed to ban the devices in the public interest, saying it was needed to ensure e-cigarettes don’t become an “epidemic” among children and young adults.
Proposed punishment under the act;
Punishment after first offence — One year jail and Rs 1 lakh fine
Punishment for repeating offence — Three-year jail and Rs 5 lakh fine