Government approves ordinance to ban e-cigarettes

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced on Wednesday the immediate ban of E-cigarettes in India.

E-cigarettes and vaping products envisioned as a tool to combat tobacco addiction has become a major problem and increased the risk of children taking up smoking, the finance minister said.

“The production, manufacturing, import or export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes are banned,” FM Sitharaman said, announcing that the union cabinet had cleared an ordinance that has been sent to President Ram Nath Kovind.

“Reports say that there are some who are probably getting into the habit of e-cigarettes as it seems cool. It is believed that there are more than 400 brands, none of which is manufactured yet in India. And they come in over 150 flavours,” Ms Sitharaman added.

The minister added that e-cigarettes are being used as a “style statement” and therefore the government was keen to stop its spread. Many e-cigarette companies have been accused of trying to attract a new generation of nicotine users.

The Health Ministry had proposed to ban the devices in public interest, saying it was needed to ensure e-cigarettes don’t become an “epidemic” among children and young adults.

The Prohibition of E-cigarettes Ordinance, 2019, was recently examined by a Group of Ministers (GoM) following directions from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Health Ministry had proposed a jail term of up to one year along with a penalty of Rs. 1 lakh against first time violators. This can go up to imprisonment of three years or a fine up to Rs. 5 lakhs for subsequent violations.

The government would be hoping to clear the bill in parliament in the winter session of the parliament.

Soon after the government announced approved the ordinance, stocks of major cigarette manufacturing companies spiked. Shares of ITC rose 1.5 percent while Godfrey Phillips saw a rise of close to eight percent. Stocks of Golden Tobacco went up approximately 4.5 percent.

The move comes just a week after US President Donald Trump proposed a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes.