Electronic Cigarettes Prohibited In India
The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage, and Advertisement) Act, 2019 was enacted on the 5th December, 2019 which seeks to prohibit the production, trade, storage, and advertisement of electronic cigarettes.
Smoking is a sin. To nudge smokers to quit, e-cigarettes were introduced but in course of time it was found that people became addicted to them. E-Cigarettes have equally bad repercussions on the health which leads to cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary problems. In this light, government took a proactive legislative measure and enacted the legislation.
- The Act defines electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) as electronic devices that heat a substance, which may contain nicotine and other chemicals, to create vapour for inhalation.
- It prohibits the production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution and advertisement of e-cigarettes in India.
- Any person who contravenes this provision will be punishable with imprisonment of up to one year, or a fine of up to one lakh rupees, or both.
- For any subsequent offence, the person will be punishable with an imprisonment of up to three years, along with a fine of up to five lakh rupees.
- No person is allowed to use any place for the storage of any stock of e-cigarettes. If any person stores any stock of e-cigarettes, he will be punishable with an imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine of up to Rs 50,000 or both.
Health Risks: Ban has been imposed because e-cigarettes and similar products pose health risk to people, especially the youth. A 2018 study found that the daily use of e-cigarette was associated with a 79% increase in heart attack risk.
- As per the Indian Council of Medical Research, ENDS, e-cigarettes, e-sheesha, heat-not-burn devices, vape and e-nicotine flavoured hookah etc are dangerous for health and can cause cancer, DNA damage, pulmonary and other deadly disorders. Additionally, nicotine also hampers brain development causing difficulties in learning and mood-swings.
- The aerosol containing a suspension of fine particles and gases simulates cigarette smoke. Following a puff, the aerosol is delivered to the user’s mouth and lungs and the rest is exhaled
- E-cigarettes also contain volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, such as nickel, tin and lead which have adverse effect on health.
- A recent US FDA study showed a shocking jump of 78% in high school teens using e-cigarettes pointing towards flavours in e-cigarettes as one of the reasons for children to use them.
- Big Market: India has the second highest population of smokers and it is a big market for alternative smoking device industry.
- Faulty Promotion: Manufacturers have promoted e-cigarettes as a harm-reducing product. But at present, there is limited evidence to support the claim that e-cigarettes help people to stop smoking. On the other hand, the delivery of nicotine is variable and difficult to assess as they come in different sizes.
- Misconception: A misconception that e-cigarettes are less harmful than other forms of tobacco such as cigarettes is attracting youth towards ENDS. However, those who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to go on to smoke conventional cigarettes. A 2015 survey by The Truth Initiative (an anti-tobacco organisation) found that almost 60% of those who used e-cigarettes also smoked cigarettes, called as dual users.
- Derails Government Efforts: The government is concerned that e-cigarettes can seriously undermine and derail the government’s efforts to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use.
- Arbitrary Action: E-Cigarettes promoting trade bodies, users and other stakeholders have slammed the government’s move to impose ban, alleging it was an arbitrary, discriminatory, drastic and excessively draconian step taken in haste to protect the conventional cigarette industry. They also alleged that it deprives 11 crore active smokers of safer options.
However, unlike smoking, the adverse health effects of e-cigarettes are not yet known. So government should consult all the stakeholders to arrive at a decision regarding ENDS.
Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS)
- ENDS or non-combustible tobacco products are known by many names — vapes, e-hookahs, electronic cigarettes and e-pipes and are marketed as tobacco-free nicotine delivery devices.
- An e-cigarette is a battery-operated device, which produces aerosol by heating a solution containing nicotine, and flavours in the form of liquid, primarily composed of solvents such as glycerol, propylene glycol etc among other things unlike traditional cigarettes which burn tobacco leaves.
Enacting legislation is one side of the solution and its success lies in its enforcement and implementation on the ground. Harsh punishment prescribed in the act and associated addiction is going to turn it underground. So, informative empowerment of people in general and youth in particular and association of civil society will be the key determinant in the faithful implementation of the act. Further it is essential to enlarge the aim of the statute and move toward a tobacco free society to usher in holistic development health in country.