The Union Health Ministry’s proposed ban on ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) has won support from an organisation which advocates for tobacco control.
“There is a concerned attempt by importers of e-cigarettes to ensure that the Ministry of Health’s good work done providing a platform for prohibition of imports of these products is frustrated,” the National Health Forum said in a statement. It urged ministries to “support this move and ensure that such products are banned and are not included as legal products under the COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act) or the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.”
The Union Health Ministry directed state governments last year to prohibit ENDS and has been working since to develop a ban at the national level. An ordinance is being reviewed by a panel being chaired by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, according to Livemint, which would ban the devices and punish first-time violators with a prison sentence of up to a year and a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh. Repeat offenders would be jailed for up to three years and fined up to Rs 5 lakh.
The proposed ban on ENDS has won support from health bodies including the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which says they can be linked to numerous adverse health effects and act as a gateway for young people to begin smoking after ENDS addict them to nicotine. Numerous state and union territory governments have banned the devices.
However, opposition to a ban on ENDS has been voiced from multiple quarters. Oncology experts have argued that the ICMR’s position is misjudged and that e-cigarettes can actually offer a number of benefits to public health by reducing smoking rates. The industry has appealed against a ban, calling instead for e-cigarettes to be regulated rather than subjected to a blanket ban.