THE UNION Health Ministry is preparing to bring out an ordinance banning the production, import, distribution and sale of electronic cigarettes. The ordinance will be sent to a group of ministers for scrutiny.
A senior official said: “ICMR has recommended a complete ban on e-cigarettes. A petition that had asked for prohibition of an ordinance banning e-cigarettes has been rejected by the court. The ordinance will give legal backing to the ban.” The ministry had earlier sent advisories to states asking them to ban e-cigarettes, but the move was challenged in court.
The Prohibition of E-cigarettes Ordinance 2019 will provide for a maximum imprisonment of up to one year along with a penalty of Rs 1 lakh against first-time violators. This can go up to three years of jail and a penalty of Rs 5 lakh for repeat offenders.
The Delhi High Court had stayed a government circular banning sale and manufacture of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). It said the products were not a “drug” and authorities did not have the jurisdiction to issue such a direction. More than 3,000 users of these devices had recently written to the Prime Minister, requesting him to legalise ENDS, saying their health had improved after they switched to vaping from smoking.
Banning e-cigarettes is one of the 100-day goals of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.