After writing a letter to the Commerce Ministry to prevent the entry of electronic cigarettes in the market, the Union Health Ministry has now put forward a suggestion to ban production and import of it.
The ministry recommended that the government, which is entrusted by people to work in public interest, has a responsibility to make sure that e-cigarettes do not become a widespread occurrence among the youth of the country.
E-cigarettes and similar technologies that encourage tobacco use or adversely impact public health are hazardous for an active as well as passive user, said a Reuters report quoting the health ministry internal note.
The note further proposed jail term for offenders of up to one year and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. In the case of repeat offenders, the jail term is increased to 3 years with Rs 5 lakh fine.
The proposal will have to go through approval in parliament to be a law.
Moreover, this might take a couple of months. However, there has been no official communication from the health ministry.
It’s worth noting that 12 of India’s 29 states have banned e-cigarettes.
In March this year, Health Secretary Preeti Sudan in a letter to PMO and commerce ministry opposed entry of e-cigarettes. The young generation would be particularly vulnerable to such products, the letter said.
The development has come at a time when US-based Juul, is planning to launch its products in India. It has been hiring and looking for people.
In January, the company had recruited Uber India executive Rachit Ranjan as senior public policy strategist and Mastercard executive Rohan Mishra to head government relations.
Juul sees India as one of the lucrative markets for expansion of its products. The company is open also to dialogue with lawmakers and regulators to help switch adult smokers in India.
Philip Morris is reportedly looking to launch its vaping device in India.
The e-cigarettes makers say they are far less harmful because users do not inhale the dangerous matter taken into the lungs through cigarette smoking.
Indian cigarette market, which is estimated to be worth $10 billion, is currently dominated by ITC and Godfrey Phillips.
As per the last reported figure, there are more than 100 million adult smokers in India. About 1 million people die every year due to tobacco-borne illness in the country. In 2018, the health ministry, to curb tobacco consumption, had asked states to stop the sale or import of e-cigarettes.