Online retailers have said they will take action to make sure e-cigarettes are not sold on their platforms in the wake of the Centre’s ban on the devices.
Following the announcement of the ban on Wednesday, it was reported that some online retailers such as Amazon and Flipkart still had e-cigarettes listed for sale. Both companies have since said that they will take action to make sure their Indian domains do not sell them in compliance with the law.
“Tobacco products, including…e-cigarettes, are not allowed to be listed or sold on Amazon.in as per Amazon policy,” Amazon said in a statement. The company said the onus was on third-party sellers to operate according to the law and “in case sellers list such products evasively and the same is brought to our knowledge, Amazon.in lists such products and takes appropriate enforcement action against such sellers.”
Flipkart, meanwhile, said “we are aware of the ordinance and immediately alerted our teams to work with sellers to take all products off the platform.” A spokesperson for the company added “we will continue to monitor the listings to ensure that these products are not available on the platform.”
The production, sale, distribution, and storage of e-cigarettes are prohibited under the ordinance, penalising first-time offenders with a prison sentence of up to a year and a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh. Repeat offenders can be punished with up to three years jail time and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.
“Online advertising and sales are banned. E-commerce service providers should take down the advertisements and sale offers immediately,” said Union Health Ministry official Vikas Sheel.
The ban was taken in the interest of public health and has divided reactions. Some observers such as the World Health Organization and individuals such as Michael Bloomberg have praised the move as a necessary step to protect young people from nicotine addiction. On the other hand, the e-cigarette industry and some health experts have been critical and suggested it could drive the e-cigarette industry underground and hamper tobacco control efforts by eliminating access to a valuable cessation tool.