A man smokes a Philip Morris International Inc. iQOS electronic cigarette in this arranged photograph. (Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg)

E-Cigarettes May Get Banned In India

The commerce ministry has asked the health ministry to frame a law banning the manufacture and sale of e-cigarettes in the country, according to people aware of the development.

It would be impossible to put a blanket ban on imports of e-cigarettes in the absence of a domestic legislation, the people said. The commerce ministry has also been asked to issue a notification banning the import of electronic nicotine delivery systems, including e-cigarettes and flavoured hookah.

One of the persons cited earlier said that without banning the domestic sale and manufacture of electronic nicotine delivery systems through a law, an import ban will be an infringement of global trade norms.

In August last year, the health ministry had issued an advisory to all states and union territories to stop the manufacture, sale and import of electronic nicotine delivery systems after the Delhi High Court took strong exception to the centre for delay in coming up with appropriate measures to tackle the "new emerging threat" of e-cigarettes in the country.

Over 1,000 doctors from 24 states and three union territories in April urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to enforce a ban on electronic nicotine delivery systems before it becomes an “epidemic in India”, especially among the youth.

In March, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation also directed all drug controllers in states and union territories not to allow the manufacture, sale, import and advertisement of electronic nicotine delivery systems, including e-cigarettes and flavoured hookah, in their jurisdictions.

Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves but vaporise a solution, which a user then inhales. The main constituents of the solution, in addition to nicotine, are propylene glycol (with or without glycerol and flavouring agents).

The health ministry, in its general advisory to public in August 2018, had said that as per the World Health Organisation report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2017, 30 countries, including Mauritius, Australia, Singapore, Korea (Democratic People's Republic), Sri Lanka, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, have already banned electronic nicotine delivery systems.