Union Cabinet has approved a ban on the production, manufacture and advertisement of e-cigarettes in the country.
“The Cabinet has taken a decision to ban e-cigarettes in nine forms including production, manufacturing, export, import, transport or sale, distribution, storage and advertisement related to e-cigarettes”, said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a cabinet briefing.
There has been a 77.8% growth in the use of e-cigarettes amongst school students. Even middle school students have become the victim and taken to e-cigarettes, added Sitharaman quoting US data on the impact of e-cigarettes.
Nearly 3 million people in the US use e-cigarettes. The residual nicotine inside e-cigarettes harms passive smokers or people around, she further said.
Earlier last month, the Union Health Ministry had sought a similar ban on production and import of it. The ministry recommended 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 ban also marked 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 development will serve as set back for US-based Juul, which is planning to launch its products in India.
In January, the company had also recruited people for senior executive positions to head government relations.
Juul sees India as one of the lucrative markets for expansion of its products. The company has also reportedly claimed to have a dialogue with lawmakers and regulators to help switch adult smokers in India.
However, 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.
Meanwhile, the govt will take up an ordinance on the subject and present it in the next session of parliament.