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Government Policy 01 Nov 2014

Government considers ban on e-cigarettes over risks to public health

Upto 900,000 Indians die every year of tobacco-related diseases, and that number could reach 1.5 million by 2020 if users do not kick the habit, the International Tobacco Control Project estimates.

By PTI

The government is considering a ban on electronic cigarettes over the risks to public health that they may cause, according to a Reuters report, citing a senior Health Ministry official's statement.

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) in August called for stiff regulation of e-cigarettes as well as bans on indoor use, in the latest bid to control the booming $3 billion global market.

 

Such devices use battery-powered cartridges to produce a nicotine-laced vapour but there is a lack of long-term scientific research that confirms they are safe.

 

"We see it as a backdoor entry, it doesn't have tobacco but it has nicotine," said the official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

 

"Expert panels have recommended regulation or a ban. India cannot regulate easily," the official added, saying that the government would consider the ban in the next month or two.

 

Up to 900,000 Indians die every year of tobacco-related diseases, and that number could reach 1.5 million by 2020 if users do not kick the habit, the International Tobacco Control Project estimates.

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is taking several steps to curb India's tobacco consumption. It has increased taxes on tobacco products and ordered companies to print more health warnings on packages.

 

Single Ban?

 

While most e-cigarettes are imported and sold by small firms, India's largest cigarette maker ITC started selling the devices in August.

 

ITC did not comment directly on the likely ban, but said India should not be left behind in technology development of such products.

 

India has also proposed a ban on the sale of single conventional cigarettes. The official said the ministry had proposed amendments to tobacco control laws and a cabinet note had been circulated for comments.

 

Indians smoked more than 100 billion cigarettes in 2012, according to Euromonitor International.

 

The WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control states that countries "shall endeavour" to prohibit such sales as it makes them more affordable for minors. India is a party to the convention.

 

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