E-cigarettes banned in India: Will it save tobacco farmers?
New Delhi, Sep 18: India on Wednesday approved a ban on the manufacturing and sale of e-cigarettes, after vaping gets a bad rap globally following the death of six people in the United States recently.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Union Cabinet gave approval to ban e-cigarettes in India. The production, manufacturing, import/export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes hereby stands banned.
Announcing the key decision, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said it was made keeping in mind the impact it is having on the youth today.
She further said,"In the United States, there are 7 deaths that are directly linked with e-cigarettes."
Sitharaman said data in the US suggests that there is a 78 per cent increase in the use of e-cigarettes by high school students in the US. There has been a 900 per cent increase in the use of e-cigarettes in the US, and 300 million US citizens are using e-cigarettes, she added.
The decision, taken by the Union cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also hit the plans of foreign companies such as Juul Labs and Philip Morris International (PM.N) to enter the Indian market.
"The Cabinet today gave approval to a decision to ban e-cigarettes which is also otherwise technically called the ENDS (Electronic nicotine delivery systems), which means production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale, distribution and storage and advertisement related to e cigarettes are all banned," said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who had headed a Group of Ministers (GoM) on the issue.
Violators will face a jail term
First-time violators will face a jail term of up to one year and a fine of Rs one lakh, and for subsequent offences, a jail term of up to three years or a fine of Rs 5 lakh, or both have been prescribed, she said.
Storage of electronic-cigarettes shall also be punishable with an imprisonment up to 6 months or fine up to Rs 50,000 or both.
According to an official statement, the owners of existing stocks of e-cigarettes on the date of commencement of the ordinance will have to declare and deposit the stocks with the nearest police station.
The government will immediately pass an ordinance, subject to the approval of the President, and the matter will be taken up in the next Parliament session, she said.
Black day for 11 crore smokers in India
E-cigarettes promoting trade bodies, users and other stakeholders slammed the government's move to ban the "alternative" smoking device through the ordinance route, alleging it was a "draconian" step taken in haste to protect the conventional cigarette industry.
Association of Vapers India (AVI), an organisation representing e-cigarette users, also alleged that it is a black day for 11 crore smokers in India who have been deprived of safer options. There was no immediate reaction from Philip Morris International.
Cigarette stocks gained up
Meanwhile, after the cabinet decision, cigarette stocks gained up to 5.5 per cent with shares of Godfrey Phillips India jumped 5.55 per cent and Golden Tobacco climbed 4.69 per cent on the BSE. Likewise, VST Industries rose by 3.43 per cent and ITC gained 1.03 per cent.
Will it save tobacco farmers?
The appeal was made to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday.
"If e-cigarettes are allowed in India, it will have a devastating effect on the tobacco farmers in India. 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. In fact, the countries that these e-cigarettes belong to, like the US, have also banned them," Jagjit Singh Dallewala of the BKU said in a statement on Tuesday.