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Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Ordinance 

Topics covered: 

  1. Issues related to health and Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Ordinance 

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: e-cigarettes- concerns, effects on health, need for regulation, challenges associated and measures needed.

 

Context: Cabinet approves Promulgation of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement) Ordinance, 2019.

 

Upon promulgation of the Ordinance:

  1. Any production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale (including online sale), distribution or advertisement (including online advertisement) of e-cigarettes shall be a cognizable offence.
  2. It shall be punishable with an imprisonment of up to one year or fine up to Rs. 1 lakh or both for the first offence; and imprisonment of up to three years and fine up to Rs. 5 lakh for a subsequent offence.
  3. Storage of electronic-cigarettes shall also be punishable with an imprisonment up to 6 months or fine up to Rs 50,000 or both.  
  4. The owners of existing stocks of e-cigarettes on the date of commencement of the Ordinance will have to suomoto declare and deposit these stocks with the nearest police station.

 

Implementation:

  1. The Sub-Inspector of Police has been designated as the Authorized Officer to take action under the Ordinance.
  2. The Central or State Governments may also designate any other equivalent officer(s) as Authorized Officer for enforcement of the provisions of the Ordinance.

 

What are Electronic-cigarettes?

Battery-operated devices that produce aerosol by heating a solution containing nicotine, which is the addictive substance in combustible cigarettes.

These include all forms of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, Heat Not Burn Products, e-Hookah and the like devices.

 

Why prohibit?

Their use has increased exponentially and has acquired epidemic proportions in developed countries, especially among youth and children.

Apart from nicotine, e-cigarettes may also be used for delivery of other psychoactive substances.

Widespread use and unchecked proliferation of e-cigarettes and the like devices would seriously undermine and derail Government’s efforts to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use.

 

Significance of the decision:

The decision to prohibit e-cigarettes will help protect population, especially the youth and children, from the risk of addiction through E-cigarettes.

Enforcement of the Ordinance will complement government’s efforts for tobacco control and will help in reduction of tobacco use and reduction in associated economic and disease burden.

The WHO has also urged member countries to take appropriate steps including prohibiting these products.

 

Challenges ahead:

Drugs Consultative Committee (“DCC”) has recommended a complete ban on the manufacture and import of ENDS under sections 26A and 10A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

Interestingly, the Delhi High Court and the Bombay High Court in their orders dated 18 March 2019 and 25 July 2019 respectively have held that ENDS are not drugs and therefore cannot be banned under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and hence no proceedings can be initiated against the manufacturers, sellers and importers of ENDS.

There is, therefore, a clear inconsistency and conflict when it comes to the stand taken by the Central government and the courts.

 

Conclusion:

If anything is per se harmful it should never be allowed in the interest of public health. At the same time, in the absence of clear scientific evidence, anything which is less harmful or not harmful cannot be banned when something else which is far more harmful is being allowed.

 

Sources: pib.

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