Karnataka classifies nicotine as poison

In a move that will make the battle against e-cigarettes stronger, the state has classified nicotine as a poisonous substance under the Karnataka Poisons Rules, 2019.

Simply put, it implies that the sale and possession of nicotine will be permitted only in cases where it is prescribed by a psychiatrist and is within the recommended limits. In Section Class A of the Karnataka Poisons (Possession and Sale) Rules, 2015, an amendment has been now made which mentions nicotine as one of the poisonous substances.

Dr Selvaraj, nodal officer, Department of Health and Family Welfare (anti-tobacco cell), said that this (move) would help the department in its fight against the use of vape. "There was a legal hurdle. When we sought for e-cigarette ban, they contended that there was no tobacco (in e-cigarettes) and hence not harmful.  Henceforth, legally, we will have a better stand considering that nicotine has now been listed under the Poisons Act," said Dr Selavaraj.

As per the new rule, sale and consumption of nicotine tablets of only 2 mg and 4 mg dosages will be allowed for deaddiction. "Although tobacco has several 3,000 chemicals, Nicotine is the most harmful one," he said.

The decision came after a Gazette notification by the state government issued in March, this year, saw no objections to the move.

The state government had, by a circular in 2016 banned the sale of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or vapes. However, in 2019, a consortium representing the e-tobacco lobby urged the state government to reconsider its decision.

An expert said that several states had already made a decision in this regard. "Punjab is one such example. The suggestion came from the drug controller. So far, nicotine was classified under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, and enforcement was a challenge."

"We are still curious about the implication. There is a need for further discussion and understanding what happens to the over-the-counter products in the market in the wake of this order," said a source.

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