India Bans E-Cigarettes With Youth Addiction in Mind

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"It means the production, manufacturing, import/export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes are banned", Sitharaman said.

First-time offenders could face a year's imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 rupees ($1,404), Federal Health Secretary, Preeti Sudan, said. If it is a repeat offence, the punishment is higher with three years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5 lakh.

"Considering the seriousness of the impact of e-cigarettes on the youth, the cabinet has approved an ordinance to ban e-cigarettes", Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told a news conference.

The vapour does not contain the estimated 7,000 chemicals present in tobacco smoke but does contain a number of substances that could potentially be harmful.

The ban dashes the expansion plans of various global e-cigarette companies like Juul Labs and Philip Morris worldwide who were about to launch their brands in India. But many tobacco-control activists are opposed to the devices, saying they could lead to nicotine addiction and push people toward consuming tobacco.

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The sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine have been previously banned in several European countries, including Sweden and Norway, as well as in Hong Kong, Japan and Brazil.

But India's health ministry, which proposed the ban, says it is in the public interest to ensure vaping doesn't become an "epidemic" among young people. "An ordinance has been passed and the issue will be raised in the Parliament", she added.

In a white paper, the apex medical research body said e-cigarettes adversely affect the cardiovascular system, impairs respiratory immune cell function and airways in a way similar to cigarette smoking and is responsible for severe respiratory diseases.

As of Wednesday, it was reported that seven people had died in the USA because of a vaping-related illness. Even middle school students have taken to e-cigarettes. The main reason is that the e-cigarette companies who are trying to open shops in India are of foreign origin and do not use Indian tobacco. While vaping exposes users to lower levels of toxins than smoking, the World Health Organization said the devices still pose "health risks" to users.

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