RSTV: POLICY WATCH- BAN ON E-CIGARETTES
Parliament has passed Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Bill, 2019. Rajya Sabha passed The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage, and Advertisement) Bill, 2019 by a voice vote after 4 hours of discussion. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on 27th November and this will replace an ordinance promulgated by the government on September 18. First time offenders will be jailed upto a year and a fine upto 1 lakh can be imposed. Repeat offenders, the jail term can be extended till 3 years with fine extending upto 5 lakh rupees.
The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage, and Advertisement) Bill, 2019
The Bill defines electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) as electronic devices that heat a substance, which may contain nicotine and other chemicals, to create vapour for inhalation. These e-cigarettes can also contain different flavours and include all forms of electronic nicotine delivery systems, heat-not-burn products, e-hookahs, and other similar devices.
- Banning of e-cigarettes: The Bill prohibits the production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution and advertisement of e-cigarettes in India. Any person who contravenes this provision will be punishable with imprisonment of up to one year, or a fine of up to one lakh rupees, or both. For any subsequent offence, the person will be punishable with an imprisonment of up to three years, along with a fine of up to five lakh rupees.
- Storage of e-cigarettes: Under the Bill, no person is allowed to use any place for the storage of any stock of e-cigarettes. If any person stores any stock of e-cigarettes, he will be punishable with an imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine of up to Rs 50,000 or both. Once the Bill comes into force, the owners of existing stocks of e-cigarettes will have to declare and deposit these stocks at the nearest office of an authorised officer. Such an authorised officer may be a police officer (at least at the level of a sub-inspector), or any other officer as notified by the central or state government.
- Powers of authorised officers: If an authorised officer believes that any provision of the Bill has been contravened, he can search any place where trade, production, storage or advertising of e-cigarettes is being undertaken. The authorised officer can seize any record or property connected to e-cigarettes found during the search. Further, he may take the person connected with the offence into custody.
- If the property or records found during the search cannot be seized, the authorised officer can make an order to attach such property, stocks or records
Reasons to justify the ban on e-cigarettes:
- Threat to country’s tobacco control efforts
- Hindrance in achieving targets envisaged under Sustainable Development Goals, National Monitoring Framework for Prevention and Control of non-communicable diseases and National Health Policy, 2017
- Overall interest of public health of the youth and pregnant women as well
- Addictive nature of nicotine
- Scant scientific evidence for use of e-cigarettes as effective tobacco cessation aids
- Safety concern of flavours in combination with nicotine
- The government also cited Article 47 of the Indian Constitution to justify the ban on e-cigarettes (Article 47 reads: “Duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.).
Youngsters ill- informed:
- It is a preventive decision.
- The youngsters are hooked to e- cigarettes and range of Electronic Nicotine Delivery system and the reason being super marketing by a lot of ends selling firms which are now reaching young groups and telling them that it is not harmful.
- They are designing ends in a way to resemble cigarettes which becomes fashionable for young minds to get hooked.
- No evidences that these are harm reduction devices.
Considering the highly addictive nature of nicotine; safety concern of flavours in combination with nicotine; risk of use of other psychoactive substances through these devices; initiation of nicotine or psychoactive substances by non-smokers, especially adolescents and youth; dual use of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes; scant scientific evidence for use of e-cigarettes as effective tobacco cessation aids; threat to country’s tobacco control efforts; hindrance in achieving the targets envisaged under Sustainable Development Goals, National Monitoring Framework for Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases and National Health Policy, 2017; and in overall interest of public health as envisaged under Article 47 of the Constitution of India, the decision has been taken to prohibit/ban e-cigarettes including all forms of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems [ENDS), Heat Not Burn Products, e-Hookah and the like devices.
How are e-cigarettes regulated worldwide?
- India is a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) which was developed in response to the globalisation of the tobacco epidemic.
- In 2014, the WHO FCTC invited all its signatories to consider prohibiting or regulating e-cigarettes in their countries.
- This was suggested due to emerging evidence on the negative health impact of these products which could result in lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and other illnesses associated with smoking.
- Since then, several countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, and Thailand have banned the production, manufacture, and sale of e-cigarettes.
- The states of New York and Michigan in USA banned the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes. Whereas, in UK, the manufacture and sale of e-cigarettes has been allowed based on certain conditions. Further, the advertisement and promotion, and the levels of nicotine in e-cigarettes is also regulated.
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.