20th September – Explained – Why e-Cigarettes bother the Government?

On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet approved an ordinance prohibiting electronic cigarettes in the country. It makes production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement of e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) such as vapes, e-hookahs and e-cigars a punishable offence.

e-Cigarettes

Punishment –

First-time offenders may face imprisonment of up to one year, a fine up to Rs 1 lakh, or both. Subsequent offences may lead to up to three years’ imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh in fine, while those found storing e-cigarettes and other such ENDS products will face up to six months in prison and up to Rs 55,000 in fines, or both.

What are e-cigarettes?

  • E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a solution of nicotine and different flavours to create aerosol, which is then inhaled. These devices belong to a category of vapour-based nicotine products called ENDS. E-cigarettes and other ENDS products may look like their traditional counterparts (regular cigarettes or cigars), but they also come in other shapes and sizes and can resemble daily use products, including pens and USB drives.
  • Several companies selling ENDS in India have positioned these products as a safer, less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes or as devices that could help users quit smoking.

Size of e-Cigarette market in India –

India’s vapour products market was nascent, but expected to experience rapid growth. It was valued at over $15 million in 2017, according to analyst reports, and projected to grow nearly 60 per cent a year up to 2022. A recent study by Prescient and Strategic Intelligence showed that India’s e-cigarette market was expected to reach $45.3 million by 2024, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 26.4 per cent.

Why the ban?

  • The Health Ministry and Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation, India’s drug regulatory authority, had attempted in the past to ban the import and sale of these products citing public health concerns.
  • Health Ministry sources say that these products have neither been assessed for safety in the national population, nor been approved under provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. Yet, they have been widely available to consumers, one of them had said. Though some smokers have claimed to have cut down smoking while using ENDS, the total nicotine consumption seemed to remain “unchanged”, according to the government.
  • In May 2019, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) released a white paper stating that the uses of ENDS, or e-cigarettes, have “documented adverse effects” which include DNA damage; carcinogenesis (initiation of cancer formation); cellular, molecular and immunological toxicity; respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological disorders. It also impacts foetal development and pregnancy, according to ICMR, which had recommended a “complete prohibition” of these products.

SourceThe Indian Express

QuestionWhat are e-Cigarettes? Analyse the recent ban on the e-Cigarettes by the Union Cabinet.