Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday defended the ban imposed on e-cigarettes on his radio programme Mann Ki Baat, saying it was done to protect youngsters from “this new intoxication”, PTI reported. He said that while there were no doubts about the harmful impact of regular cigarettes, there was not enough awareness about e-cigarettes.

“People are totally unaware of their dangers and because of this reason, sometimes out of curiosity, e-cigarettes enter our homes silently,” the prime minister said. “Many hazardous chemicals are used in e-cigarettes, and they harm your health. So many youngsters, knowingly or unknowingly, proudly put e-cigarettes inside their books and pockets, or in their offices, as a fashion statement, and fall victim to them.”

On September 19, the government issued an ordinance to ban e-cigarettes. The ordinance made the production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale, distribution and advertisements of e-cigarettes a cognisable offence. First-time violators may be penalised with imprisonment of up to one year, or a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.

Modi said that e-cigarettes were banned keeping in mind that the youth are the country’s future. He said the ban was imposed to ensure that lives of young people and other users in the country are not destroyed due to e-cigarette addiction. “I urge all of you to leave tobacco addiction and to not have misconceptions about e-cigarettes,” Modi added.

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The prime minister also wished singer Lata Mangeshkar on her 90th birthday and offered greetings for the festive season of Navratri. Modi asked people to ensure that they donate things to charity through his “delivery in, delivery out” concept and spread joy among those in need.

“On the one hand, when we experience the ‘Delivery In’ of sweetmeats, apparel, gifts and so on, let us think for a moment on the process of ‘Delivery Out’,” Modi said. “At least in our homes, items that are in excess and thus, not required anymore, could be allocated for ‘Delivery Out’.”

He also called for the celebration of women’s power during this Diwali. “Daughters are considered Laxmi in our culture,” he said. “Can we organise programmes to help daughters in villages, towns and cities?”

Speaking about the menace of single-use plastic, the prime minister urged people to contribute to the campaign to eliminate its use. “In view of the kind of lead that India has taken towards environmental protection, today the countries of the entire world are looking towards India as a model example,” he said. “I am confident that you will all be a part of the campaign for liberation from the menace of single-use plastic on October 2.”

In his Mann ki Baat address last month, the prime minister had called for a new mass movement against the use of single-use plastic from October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Modi had also raised the matter during his address on Independence Day on August 15.