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E-Cigarettes to be banned in India: Cabinet green signals Ordinance
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E-Cigarettes to be banned in India: Cabinet green signals Ordinance

Bar & Bench

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today announced that E-Cigarettes will be banned in India with immediate effect. The Union Cabinet has given its approval for an Ordinance to be passed to give effect to the ban.

A group of Cabinet Ministers including Sitharaman today discussed the issue of E-Cigarettes, and ultimately decided to impose a ban on the same.

Addressing the media today, Sitharaman said,

“The Cabinet has given its approval for a decision to ban E-Cigarettes…It means that production, manufacturing, import, export,  transport, or sale, or even distribution, storage and advertisement relating to E-Cigarettes are all banned…

…This decision is taken keeping in mind the impact that E-Cigarettes is having on the youth of today. The data that we have is of course largely derived from the US’ experience….”

The Finance Minister cited research showing that there was a 77.8% growth of students using E-Cigarettes and vapes in the United States. She also referred to the seven deaths that were reportedly directly linked to vaping. She went on to say,

“…the course that the Cabinet has advised us to take is to pass an Ordinance immediately, considering the seriousness of the impact of E-Cigarettes on the health of the people…”

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This is not the first time the government has taken steps to regulate E-Cigarettes, or Electronic Nicotine Delivery systems (ENDS) as they are formally known.

On August 28 last year, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had issued an advisory urging States and Union Territories to ensure that ENDS are not sold, manufactured, distributed or advertised, ostensibly to prevent their usage among the youth.

More recently, in February this year, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) requested state licensing authorities to ensure that ENDS are not sold, manufactured, distributed, traded, imported and advertised in their jurisdictions, except for the purpose and in the manner and to the extent, as may be approved by the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

Prior to this communication, the DGHS had also issued a Circular on November 27, 2018, asking all Customs Authorities to ensure compliance with Centre’s advisory on the ban of ENDS.

In March, the Delhi High Court stayed the operation of this circular, noting that it appeared that the products did not fall within the definition of a drug as defined under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

In July this year, the Bombay High Court passed an interim order restraining the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of Maharashtra from taking coercive steps against e-cigarette manufacturer Godfrey Philips India Ltd.