Govt plans new law to ban e-cigarettes

Govt plans new law  to ban  e-cigarettes

With no laws regulating the sale of e-cigarettes, the Central government now plans to come out with a legislation prohibiting the sale of these electronic inhalers, which are freely sold online as well as in large cities.

 E-cigarettes look similar to regular cigarettes. But they are electronic devices that vaporise nicotine, mimicking the act of cigarette smoking. They were originally developed as a tobacco cessation device, even though there are now several questions on their utility in de-addiction therapy.

 “E-cigarette is nothing but a nicotine delivery system. It is being sold without any license at the moment. We plan a legislation to stop its illegal sale,” a Health Ministry official told Deccan Herald.

 Indian laws currently allow sale of two nicotine patches of 2 and 4 mg. But e-cigarettes have dispensers, containing the deadly nicotine. 

Ministry officials said these products are pushed by tobacco companies using a front as they are afraid of losing the market in India. “But the biggest health risk is people using e-cigarettes switching over to smoking. The government has to initiate legal action,” said Amol Pushp, director in-charge of Tobacco Control in the Health Ministry. 

Electronic nicotine delivery system sustain and perpetuate nicotine addiction, recognises nations belonging to World Health Organisation’s (WHO) South East Asia region, which met in the capital this week to share their experience on tobacco control. In the regional meeting on the WHO’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, India’s proposal to prohibit Hookah bars – spreading rapidly in urban pockets – received widespread support.  

“We have limited success as we have been able to ban these hookah bars in Punjab as they were violating smoke-free laws. But these bars where flavoured tobaccos are available in water-pipes (hookah) are proliferating in cities,” Pushp said.

 The legislation being mulled by the Health Ministry will also seek to regulate these joints that promote tobacco use among youngsters. The government, however, is unlikely to impose any blanket ban on hookah, which is being used traditionally in the country-side. With tobacco emerging as a major killer, the health ministry had carried out a survey three years ago to find out its prevalence. 

Going by the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, India has an estimated 27.49 crore tobacco users including 16.37 crore users of smokeless tobacco and 7 crore smokers. The remaining four crore use both.

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