If you were planning to quit smoking by using one of the fashionable-looking electronic cigarettes instead, we have some bad news for you. Production and sale of electronic cigarettes is now a cognisable offence, punishable by a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh or one-year imprisonment, or both.
Storing them can lead to a fine of Rs 50,000 or imprisonment of six months or both. Repeat offenders can face jail time of three years and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh. However, for the ordinance to become a law, it needs to be approved by the Parliament when it returns for the next session in November.
The decision was made on Wednesday by a group of ministers headed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. This comes in light of data that shows an alarming increase in the number of young people who vape and smoke e-cigarettes.
According to Sitharaman, “E-cigarettes were promoted as a way to get people out of their smoking habits but reports have shown that many people are not using it as a weaning mechanism but are addicted to it.” Government data suggests that currently over 400 brands of e-cigarettes are available in the country and none of them are manufactured in India.
In 2016, Kerala joined the list of states to ban the sale, distribution and procurement of e-cigarettes. Prior to this, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Punjab had declared e-cigarettes illegal.
Though e-cigarettes do not burn tobacco, they use a heating element to vaporise nicotine. The government’s decision comes just a week after the Trump government proposed a ban on the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes in the US.
Twitter had a lot to say about the announcement. Here are some of the most common reactions.
#ecigarettes banned. Looks like a move to protect the health of tobacco giants more than protecting our health. If you really care that much ban cigarettes in entirety.— Sangita (@Sanginamby) September 18, 2019
Government banned #ecigarettes because they want to promote Bidi & Ganja . Nation First 🇮🇳— Sardarism™ (@Sardarism) September 18, 2019
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