State-level authorities are being urged to take steps to enforce the Government’s ban on e-cigarettes by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
Earlier this year, the Centre imposed a ban via an executive order which was approved by the Union Cabinet and submitted to President Ram Nath Kovind for approval. The ban on e-cigarettes, or electronic nicotine delivery systems, covers their production, distribution, importation, exportation, advertisement, sale, and storage. A bill concerning the same was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday. The Centre has stated that a ban on the use of e-cigarettes is implicit in the prohibition.
According to the order, first-time offenders can be punished with up to a year in prison and/or a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh. Repeat offenders can be penalised with a jail sentence of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh. Even possession of e-cigarettes will be a criminal offence – punishable by up to six months in prison and/or a fine of Rs 50,000.
The ban was a long-standing objective of the Government, with the Union Health Ministry urging state governments to impose a ban on e-cigarettes in August last year. A number had already done so. Following the Union Health Ministry’s missive, several more followed suit. Explaining the objective of the ban, the Union Home Ministry said in a letter to state-level police chiefs and chief secretaries that the ban was taken cognisant of “the potentially deleterious impact of e-cigarettes on public health, especially in respect of the young population going to schools and colleges.”
The Union Home Ministry has asserted that authorities can “enter, search and seize” e-cigarettes, even if they lack a warrant, on the proviso that the officer in question “has reason to believe” that the ordinance is being violated. The Ministry expanded that such steps may be taken by officials with the rank of sub-inspector or higher.
“It is requested that enforcement of provisions of ordinance may kindly be ensured, considering potential deleterious impact of e-cigarettes on public health,” the Ministry wrote. “Congruent capacity building and sensitization of enforcement personnel may be done for implementation of the ordinance.”