Heath Min seeks report on cases under e-cigarettes Act

The government had issued an ordinance to ban e-cigarettes in September this year. The new law replaces the ordinance. (Representative Image/Photo by Reuters)

The Union Health Ministry has sought an action taken report from all states on the number of cases registered, stocks seized and a number of traders who have deposited list of e-cigarettes in nearest police stations under various provisions of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Act.

The legislation was notified on December 5 making the production, import, export, transport, sale or advertisements of such "alternative" smoking devices a cognizable offence attracting jail term and fine.

Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan has written to chief secretaries of all states and UTs asking them to issue necessary instructions to departments and officials concerned for effective implementation of provisions of the Act and also undertake a month-long drive with participation of police and other departments.

Considering that sub-inspectors of police are authorised officers to take appropriate action for implementation of various provisions of the ordinance, Sudan also wrote to DGPs and DIGs to undertake a special drive for enforcement of provisions of the Act.

The government had issued an ordinance to ban e-cigarettes in September this year. The new law replaces the ordinance.

The Calcutta High Court, while hearing a case challenging the e-cigarette ban, on October 1, had stayed a clause that required submission of stock to government premises, and directed that manufacturers and wholesalers of e-cigarettes can keep it in their own godowns, where a government officer will oversee the inventory. 

The Centre after that had filed counter-affidavits following which in December the interim order made in the writ petition was vacated and the writ petitions were dismissed.

"I am to request you to issue necessary instructions for effective implementation of provisions of the Act and also to request to undertake a month-long drive with the participation of police and other departments," she said in her letter to all chief secretaries.

Referring to letter written on November 18, the health secretary again asked them and the DGPs and DIGs to  submit an action taken report on number of cases registered, stocks seized and number of traders who have deposited list in nearest police stations and verification of the same by authorised officers.

As per the Act, she elaborated that sub-inspector of police as the authorised officer has been made responsible for the implementation of provisions of the Act in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973.

Further as per Section 5 of the Act, the owner or occupier of the place with respect to the existing stock of electronic cigarettes shall, suo moto, prepare a list of such stock of electronic cigarettes in his possession and without necessary delay submit the stock as specified in the list to the nearest office of the authorised officer.

The authorised officer to whom any stock of electronic cigarettes is forwarded under clause (a) of Section 5 shall, with all convenient despatch, take such measure as may be necessary for the disposal according to the law for the time being in force, the letter stated.

"Sufficient time has been given to stock owners from September 18 and the authorised officers may be directed to proceed as per the provisions of the Act. 

"I look forward to your support in implementing the Act and would appreciate, if an action taken report is sent to the ministry," she said.

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