The government on Thursday issued an ordinance to ban e-cigarettes. The ordinance makes the production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale, distribution and advertisements of e-cigarettes a cognisable offence.

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

The offence is punishable with imprisonment of up to one year, or a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh for first-time violators. For subsequent offences, the ordinance mandates imprisonment of up to three years and fine up to Rs 5 lakh. Storage of electronic-cigarettes shall also be punishable with imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to Rs 50,000 or both.

An ordinance is promulgated by the government when it believes a law is urgently needed but the Parliament is not in session. The ordinance lapses if the government is not able to get the legislation passed by Parliament within six weeks of re-assembly.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had on Wednesday announced that the Cabinet had approved the ban on e-cigarettes, citing the need to take early action to protect public health. “E-cigarettes were meant to be a way of weaning away from smoking cigarettes,” Sitharaman had said. “Data from the US show many high school and middle-school students are taking to e-cigarettes. In India, e-cigarettes are being seen as a cool style statement.”

In August 2018, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had issued an advisory to state governments to stop the manufacture, sale and import of electronic nicotine delivery systems, or ENDS, including e-cigarettes, vape, e-sheesha, e-nicotine-flavoured hookah, and heat-not-burn devices. A week earlier, the Delhi High Court had ordered the ministry to take regulatory measures to control the sale of e-cigarettes.

Punjab, Karnataka, Mizoram, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have already prohibited the sale, manufacture, distribution and import of such devices.

Also read: If vapes are safe, why are they causing fatal lung injuries in healthy young adults?

Beware the vape: E-cigarettes pose an urgent threat to public health

Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.