Union Cabinet imposes ban on production and sale of e-cigarettes

Electronic cigarette devices

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"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.

India's government on Wednesday made a decision to ban e-cigarettes, expressing concern at the alarming rate at which vaping is becoming popular among the country's youth and causing breathing illnesses.

E-cigarettes were the most accessible alternative and having that out of the way would only mean one thing, more sale of tobacco cigarettes.

E-cigarettes have been pushed by producers as a safer alternative to traditional smoking and as a way to kick the habit.

Dr Gyandeep Mangal, senior consultant in Respiratory Medicine, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, said, "We are glad with the ban on e-cigarettes by Union Cabinet as these are as harmful as regular cigarettes".

Legislation is also being tightened elsewhere, and in Singapore e-cigarettes are already outlawed. As well, government officials are warning against storing existing devices, saying anyone who is caught doing so will face up to six months in prison and up to a $700 United States dollars fine.

E-cigarettes were becoming a style statement for the youth, Mr Sitharaman said.

While health experts have welcomed the ban. However, despite the ban, these states lack effective implementation of the ban as the use of e-cigarettes continued to grow.

The Association of Vapers India said the government's move "indicates it is more concerned about protecting the cigarette industry than improving public health".

"From the start, the government has not been considerate about public health or public welfare, backing biased scientific evidence which has been rebutted by scientists from across the world for cherry-picking and misinterpreting research to target Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS)." said Samrat Chowdhery, AVI director. This has deprived people of their freedom of choice. FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless called it an "alarming and concerning trend".

The official rejected the argument that the government is pro-tobacco industry. India produces most of its cigarettes domestically and tobacco farmers say foreign products will pose a threat to their livelihoods. There is no "good smoke" and all forms of smoke are bad. It was meant to be a weaning process to get out of smoking cigarettes.

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