E-cigarettes will be banned in India with immediate effect, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced on Wednesday. Envisioned as a tool to combat tobacco addiction, electronic cigarettes and other vaping products have become a major problem and increase the risk of children taking up smoking, she said.
“The production, manufacturing, import or export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes are banned,” Ms Sitharaman said, announcing that the union cabinet had cleared an ordinance that has been sent to President Ram Nath Kovind.
E-cigarettes are being used as a “style statement”, the minister said, and the government wants to stop the contagion before it spreads. Many e-cigarette companies have been accused of trying to attract a new generation of nicotine users.
The Health Ministry had proposed to ban the devices in public interest, saying it was needed to ensure e-cigarettes don’t become an “epidemic” among children and young adults.
Banning alternative smoking devices like e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn smoking devices, vape and e-nicotine flavoured hookahs was among the key priorities of the first 100 days agenda of the Narendra Modi government in its second term.
The move comes just a week after US President Donald Trump proposed a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes.
More than nine lakh people die each year in the country due to tobacco-related illnesses. But India has over 10 crore adult smokers, second only to China in the world, making it a lucrative market for firms such as Juul and Philip Morris.